Democratic debate functions best when it is accepted that there are people of good will and good arguments on both sides. In the Brexit debate, this sense has too often been missing. There’s plenty of blame for this to go round. To put it crudely, too many on the Leave side have been too quick to question the motives of those arguing the Remain case. While too many of those who backed the status quo have refused to accept that there are any credible arguments for leaving the EU.
So the launch by two Cambridge academics, Robert Tombs and Graham Gudgin, of Briefings for Brexit is a welcome development. Through a series of essays by academics and practitioners, it’ll make the intellectual case for following through on the referendum result and show how mistaken the idea is that this is all some kind of nativist spasm.
Now I must admit to being biased on this. I was lucky enough to take one of Tombs’ courses at Cambridge 17 years ago and he is a regular Spectator contributor. I am personal friends with several of the other signatories and I have known one of them since the day I was born. But I do think anything that raises the level of debate in this, the most important area facing the country, is to be welcomed.
Those on both sides of this debate who don’t know anyone who voted the other way should reflect that their circle may well be succumbing to group think.