In the referendum in 2016, the Brexit promised by Leaver politicians was one that would be easy to negotiate, would save lots of money (that would all go to the NHS) and would benefit Britain’s economy, security and prosperity. Several key campaigners told us that we would remain in the EU’s single market. The customs union was scarcely mentioned. Nor was Northern Ireland.
More than three years later, the version of Brexit that Johnson is offering the nation, albeit still with blurry edges, doesn’t resemble anything like what was promised during the referendum. It most certainly isn’t what many people voted for. (How could it be? – nobody was predicting this version of Brexit even a few days ago, let alone in 2016.) That is why I’ll be marching tomorrow – I believe the British people should have a final say on the Brexit deal.
Johnson’s botched Brexit deal surrenders the rights, protections and freedoms that British people have had guaranteed for almost half a century. If enacted, we will find ourselves in a Britain with fewer jobs, fewer rights, and fewer opportunities. The money promised to the NHS will never materialise once our economy is hit by this deal, and instead of reducing supposed EU-imposed red-tape, we will find ourselves tied up in more paperwork when we want to travel and trade.
People deserve the chance to be heard on whether Johnson’s Brexit is what they imagined when they voted or what they want now. I have spoken to many voters in my constituency and across the UK who already felt that May’s deal didn’t represent the Brexit they voted for – it’s unlikely this last minute Johnson deal does, either.
I’ve also spoken to people who voted Leave in 2016 but over the course of the last three years have come to the view that they would prefer to remain in the EU. A group called RemainersNow came to see me and other MEPs earlier this week. Some of them have changed their minds because they have concluded that no Brexit is good for Britain. Others simply because they feel they were lied to. Some always had their doubts, but voted Leave to express their opposition to David Cameron. Others have already suffered from specific impacts of Brexit that they weren’t told about at the time of the referendum, and they know that it’s only likely to get worse. These are the people I’m marching for.
I’m also marching for over a million young people who have turned 18 since the summer of 2016, whose futures are most at risk from this chaotic, costly and catastrophic Tory Brexit. No-one born this century voted in the referendum, despite being the generation whose entire working lives will be affected by the consequences of Brexit. They deserve to be heard.
For the past three years, the fate of this country has been held hostage by internal ideological squabbling of the Tory Party. It’s time to let the people be heard and give them a final say on Brexit.
That’s why I’ll be marching on Saturday. I hope you will be too.