Between now and the general election, expect the Labour and Conservative parties to agree on at least one thing. They both want you to think that Brexit is done and dusted and any talk of joining the Single Market is madness. They want you to think that suggesting the UK go back into the EU the ravings of demented lunatics. Neither party can afford to have Brexit and the UK’s place in Europe a dominant or even significant factor in the next election.
For those of us who think there was no bigger act of insanity than Brexit, the job is to make sure that our future in Europe is one of the top issues that fills the airways, hustings, newsprint and social media between now and the country going to the polling stations.
Labour is backing a policy the voters appear to reject
It is deeply inconvenient for Sunak and Starmer that the majority of voters in the UK now say Brexit was a mistake. It’s a bad news for the Tories that Leave voters are daily telling pollsters they regret their choice in 2016. It’s a worse look for Starmer because he’s come out in full support for a policy that has lost the support of nearly two thirds of the electorate.
Those of you desperate to see the back of this Tory administration might think that going soft on campaigning to rejoin the EU might be helpful to delivering a Tory defeat. You might be right. But a bigger danger lurks. A general election won by Labour that is Brexit light will be a general election that de facto legitimises Brexit. The Leave press and the Labour government will claim the people have spoken and showed little appetite for an early re-engagement with Europe. Labour will be extremely cautious about its relationship with the Right-wing press. Even more so if it has a slim majority or leads a coalition. Europe could be seen as a toxic topic best avoided.
Once an issue disappears from public view, it is extremely difficult to light the flame again. The news caravan has moved on. New issues shout more loudly for public attention. A new government seeks to dictate the national news agenda. The attention of pollsters goes elsewhere. All the massive amount of time, energy and effort put in by the pro-Europe side since June 2016 will stand in danger if momentum is lost.
Victory may be distant but the direction clear and the sails are full — all hands on deck!
News is a vacuum that must be filled. The folly of Brexit is daily becoming the nationally understood position. Now is the time to capitalise on that, so the public has more and more reasons to believe in not only the error of Brexit but also to buy into the common sense of rejoin.
If there is a simple message, it is that we know what we lost and we know how to get it back. The forces of light are winning. There’s a long way still to go, but the direction is clear, a fresh wind fills the sails and the barometer is set fair. All hands on deck.