I have never made any secret of my views on Brexit. I voted to leave the European Union in the first referendum – and explained before the vote my reasons for doing so – and nothing that has happened since has caused me to change my mind on those issues. You can read my reasoning here.
Despite our vote to leave the EU, three years on we still remain a member of the European Union and we are currently gearing up to vote in the European Parliament elections. That means we are taking part in elections to a body that we already voted, and yet have singularly failed, to leave. It is entirely possible that we could vote in these elections only to find a deal stitched up in parliament rendering our vote null and void. Most people reckon that somewhat unlikely though, given the three year impasse.
Given where we are, I have resolved to vote for the Brexit Party. This is why:
This is a one issue vote
Three years ago, the UK voted to leave the European Union. Since then, there has been roadblock after roadblock put in the way of the UK actually leaving as they stated they wanted to do. Fatuous arguments about clarity have been advanced endlessly. The one deal that has been struck has been universally rejected by people on all sides of the debate. Most people now have Brexit fatigue and just want the whole affair to be over.
The question before us in the European elections, then, is precisely the same one put to us in the referendum. Do we want to leave the EU? I have no interest whatsoever in European manifesto pledges because the only policy that matters in the EU, as far as those of us who wanted to leave it are concerned, is one that upholds the democratic mandate to leave. For that reason, I intend to vote for The Brexit Party.
Only two parties unequivocally advocated Brexit
There are only two parties that will unequivocally fight for us to leave the European Union. One of them has become an overtly racist party, setting its face against Muslims and welcoming the far-right Tommy Robinson into its fold as an advisor. Given that I could never vote for UKIP under their previous incarnation because of problems with their wider policies and the troubling makeup of their party, I am considerably less inclined to vote for them now.
The Brexit Party, by contrast, has managed to assemble a party list of people from across the political spectrum – left, right and centre – and has purposefully refused to put out any manifesto other than a one-point policy: to take us out of the EU. Whilst I have limited time for Nigel Farage, I have much more respect for people like Claire Fox. The party doesn’t pretend to be doing anything other than seeking to bring Brexit to pass. People from across the political spectrum have seen the sense of it. Should they manage to get us the Brexit we voted for, it is highly likely they will disband. As the only credible vehicle advocating Brexit, I intend to vote The Brexit Party.
There are wider issues at stake
Whilst the vote is essentially a one issue matter, there are certainly wider issues at stake. At heart, this is an issue of democracy. Three things bear saying.
First, the democratic mandate to leave the European Union has been flatly ignored by the political class. All efforts to reach compromise in parliament have consistently been compromising on whether we actually leave or not. Having lost a democratic vote, Remainers insisted that Brexiteers now compromise with them and our predominantly Remain parliament decided that was a credible thing to do. We have, ever since, had fudge after fudge that have culminated in bad deals, parliamentary impasses and flagrant disregard for the clearly expressed wishes of the people.
Second, in a straight choice between a party that will uphold a democratic mandate led by a man I do not like very much or voting for a party led by somebody I personally prefer but who will subvert the democratic will of the people, I do not find the choice a very difficult one in the end. I believe the consequences of voting for a party that will not uphold the referendum will render the very act of voting to be utterly valueless and will disenfranchise and already relatively disenchanted electorate. Those consequences will be wide-reaching and long-lasting. Many will rightly conclude there is no point registering one’s views at the ballot box and they will, at best, check out of the democratic process altogether or, worse, find other, less legitimate, means to register their discontent.
Third, I am quite sure that these EU elections will be touted – should Remain parties win them – as a great victory for their plan to reverse the referendum. The Lib Dems have openly campaigned to do so and have even drafted in Guy Verhofstadt to campaign alongside them. Andrew Adonis, has openly stated that Brexiteers should not vote Labour, so large swathes of the party Northern heartlands – such as where I live – will evidently choose to take him at his word. The Conservative Party have consistently failed to please anybody. But a vote for any of these parties will be deemed a basis on which to not leave the EU.
The rhetoric of Remainers
As a Socialist with sympathy for Social Conservatism – a Socially Conservative Socialist, if you will – I recognise that I am not naturally inclined to liberals. But I do recognise – not least because I haven’t had this myself for some time now – the importance of allowing people a vehicle for opposing views. Most people rightly recognise a one party state is not ideal. I acknowledge that many people do not hold my right thinking clarity and I can see the importance of granting them a vehicle for their wrongness so that they may, should enough of them want to, enact the wrong things I don’t think.
Unfortunately, it has increasingly become clear that many liberals do not agree. They are fine with multiple parties that essentially hold to the same core values but cannot tolerate those who demur. It is for this reason that Change UK could readily take members from both Labour and Conservative parties and yet still remain entirely indistinguishable from the Liberal Democrats. It is similarly why Jeremy Corbyn faced so much vehement opposition from within his own party because he did not toe the agreed liberal line.
But this is seen most clearly in the fact that people such as David Lammy refer to Brexiteers as worse than Nazis. Gavin Esler calls us ‘village idiots.’ Others continue to call us stupid and bandy around the term racist such that it hardly has any meaning anymore. The more temperate like to say that Brexiteers are hard right (which is a euphemism for Nazi). When people check out of the liberal consensus – whether they go further left or right – liberals, who like to brandish their liberal, tolerant credentials – show just how intolerant they truly are. They have systematically impeded what we may say through incrementally expanding hate speech laws and then use the very language of hate speech to write off as beyond the pale those with whom they disagree.
The problem they have is that 17.4m people voted for Brexit. Whatever they may think of that decision, it doesn’t take a genius to see that shouting the words ‘racist’ and ‘Nazi’ at people isn’t likely to win them to your point of view. What misgivings I may have about voting for a party that is led by Nigel Farage and makes room for Anne Widdecombe (though they are mitigated by people like Claire Fox), pale into insignificance when my alternative is to support those who are abundantly clear they do not want my vote and hold me in utter contempt for not agreeing with them. They label me in such ways as to make it impossible to vote for them should I have contemplated doing so. I suspect somewhere close to 17.4m people feel similarly.
So for all those reasons, I am going to vote for the only credible party for whom it will be abundantly clear that I – along with millions of others – still want the Brexit that we voted for three years ago. I am unlikely to vote for them in a general election because I cannot believe that they will stand on a policy platform I am likely to endorse. But in these EU elections, because we want to hold to the democratic mandate of that vote, and because the implications for ignoring it are serious indeed, I will vote for the Brexit Party on 23rd May.