What is in May’s withdrawal deal for the 48% ?
Theresa May believes her withdrawal deal is reflective of how the people of this country as a whole saw its relationship with and membership within the EU in June 2016. That the common customs area issue which has been so prominent an issue during negotiations, stemmed in part from the concerns of the 48% over what would happen to the economy when we would leave the EU. How much their concerns over this issue would have been addressed had Northern Ireland not brought it to the forefront can be debated another day.
The 48% however did not vote Remain only because of their concerns over businesses and jobs connected to the export of goods into the EU markets. It was only one element in wanting to maintain the strength of the UK economy and ensure the cost of living did not further rise in this country.
But when so much of the economy and social mobility in this country is linked to the freedom to offer services in the UK or Europe, which also means to create your own first job or career, and when necessary to access foreign markets when domestic markets of certain industries are closed by gatekeepers, the PM cannot believe that ensuring tariff free access for goods but not individuals is in the national interest or for the 48%.
The PM errs gravely if she believes the 48% are enjoying the result of her time consuming negotiating style which now has us in a position where we no longer have a say in the laws that affect a part of our economy and places obstacles which were not there before, in front of an even more significant part.
The country is not behind her deal and nor is it for a no deal Brexit.
The 48% would have wanted a compromise which secured access to the Single Market and the future digital single market by for instance offering emergency breaks on freedom of movement.They thought when so much was at stake that the PM would have sought compromise when Leave won by less than 2% points in a disingenuous campaign.
And while as a Canadian who recalls the egregious selfishness of Spanish trawlers toward both the environment and Canadian fishermen making their living from the sea, I can appreciate the anger at the Common Fisheries Policy, a revisiting of both the CFP and Common Agriculture Policy should have been used as part of a greater bargaining process in negotiating a final trade deal with the EU with part of the British rebate also being put on the table.
Leaving a policy or scheme does not amount to obtaining something in a negotiation.
Maybe my interpretation of the 48% and where the whole of the country is, amounts to an attempt at a reformed EU but at the minimum it would have told the people what they were getting for what they were giving up and at least there would have been an honest attempt to give people what they were promised - a trade deal providing easy access to European markets -.
And in taking another approach the PM may have been forced to compromise and negotiate in a manner which would have ironically resulted and prevented the customs union issue from becoming the Northern Ireland back-stop.
The 48% are wondering why they and the rest of the country are being asked to give up certainty for uncertainty or to give up certainty for political declarations which will require further negotiations and which will themselves once more be held to ransom by both the ERG and hard Brexit Tories when a good faith attempt at negotiations as described above was possible and the outcome of which may actually have reflected the desire of the vast majority of both the 48.2% and of the 51.8%.
But what really bothers Remainers is being treated like beggars at a banquet
The 48% have difficulty in understanding how they became beggars at a banquet when the 51.8% was obtained in a campaign where Leavers
i) purposefully confused the issues of political refugees (Syrian refugees) with the EU mobility right,
ii) claimed Turkey was about to join the EU with its approximate population of 80 million obtaining freedom of movement into the UK,
iii) that £ 350 million a week would be freed up and made available to our under-funded NHS,
iv) promised that EU Nationals would not be used as pawns ( imagine the spin in the media and the reaction of a few voters at least if they had known that at one point that PM May would reportedly utter that Leave campaign policy on this issue was not government policy), and in a vote where
v) 700 000 British citizens currently residing outside the UK were denied the right to have their voices heard at the ballot box.
Moreover, when May decided to confirm this referendum result in an election she specifically made about Brexit, her government was reduced to a minority. This was in part caused by Labour’s muddying of the waters on Brexit and our country’s future access to the Single Market, a specific strategy, adopted to attract Remain voters.
Democracy and the “will of the people” is not only about and expressed through the act of placing a mark on the ballot. It is about how and which information the electorate has access to and how a government decides to interpret the results of a vote and at times how it drafts and implements the corresponding legislation.
It is also about how a government, its secretaries and ministers, or even a Prime Minister chooses to achieve a policy and what they ignore in attempting to achieve it. The method is as important as the goal and the means can end up being the end result or indicative of what the end result will be.
John Nucciarone is a Canadian and member of the New York Bar currently living in London. All views are wholly his own.