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A retrospective on the Brexit rollercoaster - by Michael Julien

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

By Michael Julien

August 2020

When I wrote an article for Fair Observer in July 2016 entitled Brexit Blues

I could never have imagined that it would take four years to reach this stage with our government and the EU still locking horns on the terms of our post transition relationship after 31st December 2020.

I should not have been so surprised. Mrs Theresa May, our then Prime Minister, and those to whom she handed real negotiating power together with the majority of MPs were all committed Remainers. As a result the EU correctly assumed they had the upper hand. I also woefully underestimated the effort that Remainers would apply to undermining the whole process to achieve Brexit and pass the necessary legislation.

The first attack was by ­­arch Remainer Gina Miller supported by John Major (a former Prime Minister) and others who took the government to Court to force Parliament to approve the invocation of Article 50. That attack achieved a pyrrhic victory as the vote on Article 50 was overwhelming approved by Parliament.

See this link for more details:

United Kingdom invocation of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union

and this link to the BBC report on the vote

The Remainers fell at this first fence but re-grouped with substantial backing from George Soros and his friends who formed an organisation called “Best For Britain”

An arrogant title; especially as the backers included people such as George Soros who is Hungarian and who claimed to "love" Britain but clearly did not love the democratic will of the British people!! See this link to the BBC report:

I remain confused as to what George Soros hoped to gain from opposing Brexit.

On the positive side, Brexiteers found a great ally in Lord Mervyn King, previously a Governor of the Bank of England for ten years. Heavyweight support also came from Martin Howe QC (Chairman of Lawyers for Britain Professor David Blake an economist of the Cass Business School in London, and Professor Robert Tombs a historian & Dr Graham Gudgin an economist who are both of Cambridge University and founders of “Briefings for Britain”

The most memorable article from Lord Mervyn King was this one in the Financial Times “Former BoE chief King predicts collapse of the eurozone”. That was followed by several articles by Professor David Blake including this one: 'The European Union is in total crisis - we need to get out now!'

These articles both probe the fundamental flaws of the EU and the Euro that Remainers steadfastly have avoided to debate.

More articles came from Martin Howe QC as the legality of Brexit was challenged by “Best for Britain”. The most important articles can be found on the website for “Lawyers for Britain” but this link to the “Brexit Legal Guide” is the most useful. Other articles from “Briefings for Britain” by Professor Robert Tombs and Dr Graham Gudgin are best accessed on their website.

After several delays, the main turning point came with the resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May in 2019 and her replacement by Boris Johnson, with his eventually stunning victory in the General Election of December 2019 with the slogan “Get Brexit Done”. This result showed the electorate recognised the total disarray in the opposition parties and backed Boris’s decision to expel 21 Conservative M.P.'s who backed Remain. With this, the Brexit lines of battle were completely redrawn. The UK took back control of the negotiations and left the EU at the end of January 2020 with a transition period to the end of 2020.

Let us turn now to other issues. The behaviour of the Scottish National Party is strange. They argue for staying in the EU where they will have less independence than being part of the UK. Indeed the EU would likely totally ignore such a small and weak member and would keep plundering their fishing. A second referendum cannot be held without agreement by the UK government. Boris Johnson shows no signs of agreeing and perhaps this is the best protection the Scots have from the ambitions and folly of their own Nationalist leadership.

As reported in this article by respected Scottish journalist Douglas Murray for the Telegraph, “Next time, let the voters know exactly what would happen to their currency, international alliances and security arrangements. Above all, let it be agreed what share of the national debt they would be forced to take on. Only once these things are agreed upon should any vote even be considered”. See this link:

In another recent article Douglas Murray makes this point: “The Scottish National Party has taken advantage of coronavirus to further its nationalist cause — and all Britons will pay the price”

The future prosperity of the UK will depend on the quality of our educational system. The government cannot avoid addressing this issue. David Goodhart who is the author of “The Road to Somewhere: the new tribes shaping British politics” makes some powerful remarks that are very apposite. He is head of the Demography unit at the think tank “Policy Exchange”

His article for UnHerd entitled: “Why universities had to be challenged” can be found on the UnHerd website here:

In his article he makes this observation:

"Consider the following: more than a third of UK graduates are in non-graduate employment more than five years after graduating and the graduate pay premium is shrinking to below 10% for nearly half of male graduates; meanwhile employers are desperately short of people with higher manual and technical skills and there are big shortages in both the skilled trades and the care economy. At the same time, more than a third of all jobs, and most of the good ones, are graduate only, shutting out people without degrees. And in the period when the proportion of graduates in the adult population has risen to 35% (and around 45% among the under-30s) productivity has declined, social mobility has at best flat-lined and cultural divides have grown starker."

Matthew Goodwin with his reflections on "Declinism" in UnHerd makes some deeper points. He is Professor of Politics at the University of Kent and is the co-author of National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy.

Ever since the vote for Brexit, Left-wing and liberal writers have been consumed by “declinism”; the belief that Britain’s best days are in the past. "Declinists" are united by the assumption that, because of decisions that went against their own politics, Britain has become a diminished world power, is falling behind other states and is led by incompetent, amateurish elites who either lack the required expertise or “correct” ideology to reverse this decline or, worse, are actively perpetuating it.

If you add to this a report from the Telegraph on “Big Tech” by Douglas Murray we should all be concerned at the powerful forces steering us leftwards.

“The real danger from Big Tech is its power to tear society apart”

The article ends with this comment:

"The Big Tech companies have certainly made our lives easier in certain, specific ways. But they have also made our societies more divided, more fragile and more contingent than at any point before on the whims of people who think they know better than any of us what we should be able to say or know."

These issues, and indeed Brexit itself, are a test of the courage and confidence of Boris Johnson and his government. After the Brexit transition period they will be able to tackle these issues. It will still be a challenge given the competing demands of our trade negotiations and to re-build relationships with the rest of the world. Regaining our sovereignty and control over our money, our borders and our laws is only the start of a very long programme of much needed reform in the UK. The biggest challenges will be to unite the UK and to deal with the economic fall-out from the Covid19 virus. Central to this will be re-building the “Red Wall” economies of the North of England. Boris Johnson must fulfill his promise to these regions that have been ravaged by the failure of successive London-centric governments to take their interests into account.

To achieve this, the government will need to understand what “we the people” want. Tim Pope, a former partner in a major accountancy firm wrote recently for Brexit Watch here:

In his article Tim Pope said:

"IN RECENT YEARS we long suffering ordinary mortals who comprise the ‘people’ have become resigned to the stupidity of the ‘elite’. We the ‘people’, may equally be referred to as ‘the man on the Clapham omnibus’ or ‘the man in the street’. We are not the well connected. We do not move in media circles or mix with politicians. We do however, observe. We use our experience of life. We use our common sense. We use our judgment of what is right and what is wrong. We are not swayed by personal gain nor are we dazzled by the possibility of high office. The ‘elite’ tend to ignore us and assume our ignorance compared to their unswerving ability to be superior and all-knowing. They are wrong."

After four years of turmoil, Boris Johnson needs to take actions that persuade the ‘silent majority’ that he has listened to their ‘voice’. It came through loud and clear in the 2013 local elections, the 2016 EU referendum, the 2019 European Parliament election and the General Election in 2019. If Boris Johnson really does deliver Brexit and claws back our society from the deadening hand of the liberal left and "declinism", his re-election in 2024 will be a certainty.

The article in pdf can be found here:

A retrospective on the Brexit rollercoas
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