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Leaving isn’t easy when nobody can agree on it

By George Cook

Over 18 months ago, Britain voted to leave the European Union, in a referendum that was meant to ‘settle the issue for a generation’. However, in reality that has been far from the case, and what has subsequently unfolded has been unprecedented in UK politics with an early general election being called alongside a great deal of uncertainty.

Remainers want us to keep as close a relationship as possible with the single market and the customs union which will be followed by a transition period, whilst Brexiteers want a deal that will mean we have cut all ties with the economic and political operation that the EU has developed into.

Remainers, as well as Brexiteers, are from across the political spectrum. They are supporters of the Conservatives, the Labour Party, the Lib Dems, the Green Party, and even as one Twitter account suggested; UKIP (although it is unclear how serious this ‘movement’ was).

As such, it is careless and over simplistic to assert that both sides possess the same beliefs or aspire to achieve the same outcomes. But Nadine Dorries, who was suspended from the Tory whip after her decision to appear on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, seemed to generalise the fact that ‘all Remainers want a Marxist government’, presumably in reference to Jeremy Corbyn.

To assert that Corbyn for starters is in anyway pro-European is ill-conceived given his voting record. Despite his Remain stance in the Referendum, his voting record for decades previously demonstrates his rather sceptical position on Britain’s involvement with the European Union. It wasn’t just his voting record either, as several speeches were made criticising Britain’s economic and political relationship with the EU.

Corbyn has said that he himself in no way wants to prevent Britain’s exit from the European Union. Whilst some members of his Party seem hell-bent on stopping Brexit, that is unlikely to happen while Corbyn and many of his supporters are advocating for politicians to honour the result of the Referendum and respect democracy. And given Corbyn’s real views on the issue, no amount of pressure from backbench Labour MPs is going to change the position he holds.

Dorries’ assertion also disregards many of her own party colleagues position. Whilst MPs like Ken Clarke are extremely pro-European, I can almost guarantee that the last thing he wishes to see is a Labour Party in power, especially having dedicated decades in service to the Conservative Party. Ken Clarke clearly does want to Remain, but he also wants the Conservatives to remain in power, however weak that grip may be at the moment.

Despite all of this, the rather amusing factor emerging from Nadine Dorries’ statements is that she is genuinely concerned and aware of the divided and turmoiled persona her own party currently emanates. With Theresa May seemingly endlessly on the ropes, an election could be triggered at any time. Yet, a leadership contest nor the election of a Labour government would guarantee the fact we would remain in the EU.

Whilst overall the Labour Party wanted to Remain in the referendum, so too did many Conservatives. And what has now developed is a situation whereby party politics no longer matters, and our new political system is now a dichotomy between Remain and Leave. Therefore, Dorries represents those who continue, in the words of the Bishop of Leeds, ‘the demonising of people who venture to hold a contrary view.’

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