This site has had its fun with Chuka Umanna’s Vote Leave Watch which wants, as he puts it, “to hold Leave campaigners to account…and to call them out when they fail to deliver”. It follows that the only means of satisfying him is for policies to be implemented with which he fundamentally disagrees.
However, he will now have just a little more leverage than he had previously. Change Britain launches today. A glance at the names of its supporters confirms that it is essentially Continuity Vote Leave: Michael Gove, Graham Stringer, Nigel Dodds, Dominic Raab, John Mann, Nigel Lawson, Digby Jones…the gang’s all there (except Matthew Elliott, who’s over at Brexit Central). Plus Nick Boles!
Just as Umanna will watch Vote Leave, so Change Britain will watch the Government. “We will work with the Government and with people from across the political spectrum to make a success of Brexit,” its website declares. Today’s newspaper reports are more direct.
The group will “pressure on Theresa May to deliver a ‘hard Brexit’ “, the Mail on Sunday says. ConservativeHome has heard the same. Change Britain is better placed for its mission than Umanna is for his. After all, it is not the Government, and can’t be voted in or out of office. By contrast, Theresa May and her team can be.
Boris Johnson has supplied a video of support, which is as close to backing its aims as he can get, or Downing Street wants him to get, or both. Gisela Stuart will chair the group, and has a piece in the Sun on Sunday. The referendum “forced us to acknowledge that people in large sections of the UK have lost faith in political parties and the Westminster elite”, she writes. Expect to hear more of that flavour – and note the colour of the group’s logo.
We welcome Change Britain with enthusiasm. This site campaigned for Vote Leave to get designation as the official Leave campaign. We had confidence that, with Dominic Cummings running the show, it had a chance of winning. Our hope was not disappointed.
The crunch issue is continued membership of the single market. This site’s bottom line is that current levels of immigration must be reduced, and that Britain must leave the EU. This aim is very hard to square with staying in the single market, especially if one wants more flexible control than an emergency brake. None the less, the new Government is entitled to mull the issues, and to get its plan ready before moving Article 50.
It must also, as Daniel Hannan has argued, take into account the Leave campaign’s margin of victory. Exposing Remain campaigners is one thing; shunning Remain voters would be quite another. After all, they represent 48 per cent of those who voted. And there is Scotland to take into account.
The Government has ruled out simply joining the EEA and having done with it. We believe that this is right. None the less, it would not be in breach of the referendum result were it to seek to do so. Norway, after all, is not a member of the EU (and is the most cited of the EEA countries in the context of Brexit). But whatever may happen, voters cannot wait forever. Article 50 should be moved before the French elections take place – in other words, next spring.