An Appeal to Conservative Remainers

The election in which you are about to participate is crucial for the country, the European Union and even for the global economy. Moreover, for the UK at least, it is not about the next five years. It’s about what our country will be like for the next generation and the rights, political stability, peace and prosperity that we have enjoyed since 1973 that they will not.

If your vote leads to a Conservative Party majority, the revised Withdrawal Agreement Bill will be presented to the House of Commons and, given the Prime Minister’s past record, he will try to avoid any scrutiny of it. That will lead to more divisiveness, legal challenges and could have a catastrophic effect on the Union. The PM likes to describe the previous “backstop” as “undemocratic”. What could be more undemocratic than imposing a protocol on Northern Ireland that possibly breaks the Good Friday Agreement, puts a border down the Irish Sea, makes NI businesses less competitive than their Irish or British counterparts but, as has been lately leaked, may not be able to be implemented by December 2020. The DUP does not support the PM’s WAB. So, if May’s WAB was “undemocratic” and PM’s one is supported by no political party in NI, which overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU in 2016, how can the PM’s be democratic?

The PM has declared that he will not extend the transition period even though every expert available has said that, at best, only a bad deal could be negotiated within that time frame. That is exactly what happened with the “fantastic deal” that he put before the House of Commons which was merely the best that he could be negotiated in the time he allowed himself.  As before, he will try to blackmail Parliament into accepting it by the threat of “my deal or no deal”. The chances of this succeeding are slim. He will most likely be forced into extending and we will experience parliamentary strife throughout 2020. So, the whole idea of “Get Brexit Done” by January 2020 is a farce…and, deep down, you probably know it!

Indeed, the reason you are voting Conservative is through fear of a Corbyn premiership, not because of the attractions of the PM’s proposals. Yet the chance of Corbyn getting an absolute majority is so slim that it is hardly worth considering. A minority Labour government, especially given that Corbyn might not even stay on as leader of the Labour Party, could only enact legislation supported by Parliament. It would probably be limited to renegotiating a much more acceptable Brexit proposal, including at least a customs union (as Ken Clarke proposed) which would solve, in part, the Irish border issue. It would then be absorbed in putting through the necessary legislation for a second referendum. Because the deadline for extension of the transition period is in July 2020 the extension will have to be requested and granted in this scenario.

Once the result of the referendum is known we will be approaching the end of 2020. If the vote is in favour of Remain, the Conservative Party will have to reorganize itself to accept reality, which can only be of advantage to you. The ranks of the Brexit party, which will receive a new lease of life, might be swelled – if there is any honour in their ranks – by the ERG, and the Conservative Party can get back to being conservative, inclusive and genuinely “One Nation”.

Whatever the result of the vote, we will probably need a Government of National Unity to implement it, which would have the effect of uniting the vast majority of the population for the first time since 2016. A government almost solely based on the “Get Brexit Done” theme would be not only fostering a populist mythology, but would be a recipe for years of further Brexit discussions. At this time of crisis, as in previous crises, we need a GNU.

The conclusion is simple: by voting for the Conservative Party you would be, unfortunately, supporting policies which are not conservative, pragmatic or Unionist.