Our tribes are dysfunctional, but they won’t break down before Brexit. MPs must work across them—and let go of any "new centrist party" ideasby Dominic Grieve / August 19, 2018 / Leave a comment
As a Conservative Remainer MP I have spent the last two years hoping that the process of Brexit might come to change my opinions on the risks I saw it bringing to our economic wellbeing, our national security and our quality of life. But despite my best efforts to try to see silver linings to clouds, I find myself today even more strongly of the view that we are heading for a deeply dangerous outcome, even a calamitous “no deal,” which would constitute the biggest peacetime crisis in our modern history. I believe that MPs from all parties must work together to prevent a damaging hard exit.
But I am also mindful that some Conservative Party members do not share this view. It is a feature of the debate that I receive emails from those who insist to me that Brexit must take one form only. Invariably, this is followed by the demand that we must leave the single market and the European Economic Area, not engage in any customs union with the European Union and ensure that any role for the European Court of Justice is eliminated. They then insist that they knew exactly what they were voting for in 2016 and demand that I carry out their instructions from which no deviation can be tolerated.
The problem is that this was not the referendum question. It established the principle of leaving the EU but left open the form of relationship we might have with it once we were out. It allowed for plenty of speculation on how it might best be done with none of the moderation that the realities of a negotiation inevitably brings. Furthermore some Leave-voting correspondents still argue for a very different vision of the future, involving a much closer relationship with the EU. I am sure “Remain” voters will have had equally differing reasons for voting as they did.
The abstract nature of the question asked and the complexity of implementing Brexit, is haunting our politics. It exposes differences of opinion in both main parties and has created such a lack of common purpose within the government that it is paralysing it, with the doctrine of collective responsibility all but abandoned. The Chequers summit and the…