Skip to Content

Coffee House

Vote Leave now need to repay the people who voted for their cause

24 June 2016

1:52 PM

24 June 2016

1:52 PM

My part of north London feels like the morning after England get knocked out from the World Cup. People look genuinely angry, and down the road in Islington the benevolent moral guardians of the current year have been shouting ‘scum’ at Boris Johnson outside his house.

After the most unpleasant period in British politics for years, and a sour and recriminating atmosphere now lingering, the Vote Leave team – who may be the government in waiting – have got to unite the nation to assure stability; politically, economically and mentally.

As Tim Montgomerie says, we need to reassure Europe we’ll be good neighbours, reassure migrants here that they are welcome, and reassure the 48 per cent that they are not strangers in their own country.

Personally I feel great apprehension about the future – this will be complex and difficult and painful – but ultimately the relationship between Britain and Europe was always an unhappy one. The longer it went on, and the more investment placed into shared sovereignty, the more bitter the break-up was going to be. One of the many reasons I had for doubting the Leave cause was that the eurozone was always going to go its separate way anyway, and Britain was to be part of some of outer Europe. Whether that was inside the EU, or just the EEA, may be a question of degrees rather than absolute. The huge shock many Remainers feel, that the Britain they feel projects their own ideals is gone, will abate.

Most of all, though, the new Vote Leave team need to repay the 52 per cent who supported them. Boris Johnson and co. owe their power to people in Sunderland and Swansea and other towns that felt cut off from politics; paradoxically support for leave was strongest in areas that benefit the most from EU subsidy, so any future Tory government only has a mandate as a one-nation party. Wales and the north of England will have to be repaid.

Conversely, although Leave chose to make immigration their issue, the most sensible and cautious exit strategy is through the EEA, which means, at least in the short and medium terms, limited ability to control immigration. The most important thing, for now, is not to crash the economy. Either way there will be lots of bitterness and recriminations to come for the Leave team.

Show comments