Iain Duncan Smith is a former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, founded the Centre for Social Justice, and is MP for Chingford and Woodford Green.
It has been quite fascinating to watch the gyrations of the Remain campaign since they lost the referendum – how from horror at the outcome, a hard core have turned their minds to more vexatious methods.
At first, they refused to accept the result, claiming the public had been misled by the Leave campaign. Remember the demonstrations and the vitriol that was poured down on the heads of those that voted to leave. Then the anger and the tears characterised the emotional shock they clearly felt, as the realisation that Theresa May, notwithstanding her being a supporter of remain, had no intentions of trying to reverse the vote. The Prime Minister’s strong statement that she accepted the result and that her government would implement the decision in full was even spoken of as a betrayal by some Remainers.
When it became clear that the public were unimpressed by their shenanigans, the Remainers changed tack and said they accepted the result. However, this was swiftly coloured by their statement that the British people did not vote for ‘Hard Brexit,’ they voted for ‘Soft Brexit.’ Apart from the obvious question of how did they come to have such insight into the minds of the public, it should have been clear from the outset that this terminology meant nothing to most people outside the beltway. It still doesn’t, for they understood that they had voted to leave the EU.
Of course, what really lay behind this hard versus soft tautology, was their next demand that at all costs we must stay in the Single Market. To make this case the Remainers deliberately conflated the two issues of being in the Single Market and having access to it. Of course Lord Kerr, that veteran EU enthusiast and avowed Remainer, gave the game away a few days ago when he dismissed migration control as he said, “We native Brits are so bloody stupid that we need an injection of intelligent people, young people from outside…” Apart from displaying the true colours of hard core Remainers and their disregard of the capabilities of British people, he knows that migration control makes our departure from the market a forgone conclusion. That’s why yet again they trotted out the mantra that the British apparently didn’t vote to leave the Single Market.
However, they seemed to have conveniently forgotten that the then-Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated unequivocally just eleven days before the referendum that, “What the British public will be voting for is to leave the EU and leave the Single Market.” He went on to point out that the Brexit campaign had also made it clear to voters that voting to leave meant pulling out of the Single Market, and Cameron said that as Prime Minister he would accept the result as an “instruction.”
So, as that argument weakened, the Remainers moved on to their new demand that we must stay in the Customs Union. Yet again this was, we were told, vital to protect our trading links with the EU. However there would be little point in leaving the EU if we were then were unable to fix any trade arrangements. The ability to open up markets around the world to our goods and services is one of the great prizes of leaving; staying in the Customs Union would be the worst of all worlds – half in and not quite out. And, oh yes yet again, out popped the same old remain mantra that…’the British people didn’t vote for this’.
Now the latest: the Remainers have tried to seize on the idea that the UK would have to have an interim arrangement, as it is all so complicated and difficult that we couldn’t hope to achieve anything before the two years are up. Of course this has nothing to do with practicality and everything to do with ideology. I know of no negotiation that starts with one side admitting they won’t succeed and immediately demanding an interim arrangement. Yet, ridiculous as this sounds, this is what Remain propose. What they hope for is to signal to the EU that if they string it out they could keep the UK in the EU, in some form or another. They know that such an interim deal would become permanent and their objective would be achieved. For that is what this is all about. Whether its hard Brexit or soft, bogus demands on Single Market membership or the Customs Union, or hopes of too much complexity, Remain’s plan is simple: a rearguard action to bog the UK down in complexity and elongated timescales so that we never really leave.
In the midst of this, the focus is relentlessly on the gloomy, (and so often failed) forecasts, whilst some business leaders demand certainty about the future from the Government. This is repeated with glee by broadcasters who happily ignore the positive news that the economy grew more than forecast, retail sales were up, inflation fell and inward investment continues to show faith in the UK economy. Such statistics must surely, one might suppose, give room for optimism as well, but apparently not.
That’s why this Autumn Statement has become so important. The Statement is a real chance for the Government to seize the agenda, to break free from the failed forecasts and place our trust in our countrymen and women and to renew our belief that, outside the EU, despite any challenges, we can prosper and grow.
Unlike Remain, I am quite certain that the British people really did vote for that.