Mostly Work and Politics
Just flicking through Brexit posts on here and seeing how sadly divided we have all become. As I read yet more Remainer posts and re-posts in which the underlying thesis is that intelligent, reasonable, grown-up people all voted to remain, and those of us who voted to leave are thick, racist, confused, were misled, and need the help (by any means possible) of the remain intelligentsia to save us from ourselves.
Then, in the subsequent comment threads, you all seem to agree with each other and tell yourselves how clever or wronged you are and how evil and stupid and self-harming we leavers are. On Twitter it’s even worse, with allegations of Nazism or Putinesque conspiracy accusations rampant.
Well, I thank you for your posts, but you already know I'm not in agreement with you.
Speaking for myself, I thought long and hard about how I was going to vote in 2016. You can still read my reasons for voting out at the time on the ‘Don’t Know’ page I created during the campaign, and the issues we are still talking about now were all widely discussed in detail then. We simply haven’t discovered major reasons or evidence to vote one way or another that weren’t available to us then.
The reasons I eventually decided to vote leave are as clear and simple now as they were then, but the bottom line is that we had a choice in 2016. There were perfectly good reasons to vote remain, and perfectly good reasons to vote leave, it was a choice, just as we have choices at every election. I have never had the temerity or arrogance to tell a remain voter they were wrong, and I never will, because it was their choice, with compelling arguments presented and argued on both sides. In a democracy we don't always agree with each other, but surely that's the point?
Since 1992 and the Maastricht Treaty, the proportion of the UK population that wanted a referendum grew at every single election. By 2014, when UKIP finally won the European elections outright, this was far, far more than an internal Tory squabble, and the arguments for leave appealed to lifelong left wingers Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn amongst others, even Nick Clegg once campaigned for a referendum.
In 2015, the Cameron-led Tory party that had promised a referendum in its manifesto won the election with a working majority, and when they introduced the referendum bill as they had said they would, 550 out of 650 MPs voted for it. The Liberal Democrats abstained, but even they did not vote against it.
In 2016, we finally held the in/out referendum that increasing millions of people had voted for, and which all the main party leaders had offered at some stage and then failed to deliver. Every household in the country was told *in writing* that the government would implement what they decided. To my mind, that is as binding as the relationship between government and voter can get.
In June 2016, with a numerical turnout of record-breaking scale, a clear majority voted to, and I quote, "leave the European Union."
By a large majority, 450 MPs voted to trigger Article 50, thereby ensuring that the UK would leave on 29 March 2019. That date was voted for by MPs.
In 2017, Theresa May called a general election in which c.85% of voters chose to support parties that said they would respect the result. Even Philip Hammond was elected to serve in a government that said it would leave on 29 March 2019.
Theresa May said in her own words to the country and parliament hundreds of times that we would leave on 29 March 2019, and parliament passed the EU Withdrawal Act that said we would leave on 29 March 2019.
And yet we didn't leave on 29 March 2019.
We can see clearly now that Theresa May oversaw one of the most inept and incompetent pieces of statecraft in modern political history, by-passing the relevant departments and running her own private diplomacy exercise in secret. She failed.
She failed in part because despite their comprehensive electoral promises, a majority of MPs repeatedly refused to either pass the flawed transitional deal, or propose any alternative.
The issue for me is only in part the fact that I voted to leave, it is also to a huge degree the profound anger and disappointment I feel in the House of Commons and the Conservative Party who have signally failed to do what they said they would do, what they were elected to do, and what they passed primary legislation to do.
To use a phrase we are going to hear a lot in the weeks to come, I have no confidence in this parliament, this Conservative Party, or a system that is able to shrug and slip and slide and set aside a decision that, for better or worse, was unambiguously given to the people for them to decide.
It's as though we had ignored the remain vote of the Scottish referendum and offered the SNP independence in defiance of the wishes of a majority of Scottish voters, or if we had adopted AV after the referendum result said that no we didn't want it. I hear strong arguments now about the blunt and unsophisticated nature of referendums, but I didn't hear them from the same people when Scotland voted to remain in the UK... these arguments are the exclusive preserve today of those who don't like the result.
This House of Commons and the Conservative Party have offered us a late Brexit, a fake Brexit or no Brexit at all.
And that's not good enough for me.
I know this will surprise some, annoy others, and upset some good friends too, but I have thought long and hard about how to respond to something about which I feel so strongly.
• Do I ignore it?
• Do I just post about it here?
• Or do I do what I have told countless other political commentators on social media to do? Get off social media and fight the argument in the real world.
I have accused too many people of trying to fix the world on Facebook or Twitter to do that myself.
So, after much soul-searching and a lot of thought, I have made a big decision, and am now able to announce that I will be the Brexit Party candidate in Dover, if we have a general election.
I'm very excited to be campaigning for something I believe in, and I look forward to getting to know the town and people of Dover much better over the coming weeks and months. It's a great constituency with the famous port and castle at its heart, but also with many smaller towns and villages that need a voice, and with all the usual challenges of health and education and infrastructure that we all face.
You will be able to follow my new political roller coaster on a political Ed Hall facebook page or my Twitter @hall_ed, if you wish to do so.
Even if you don't agree with me, I hope that you will at least understand why I am doing what I'm doing, and just as I have done for friends standing for multiple diverse parties on left and right over the years, perhaps even wish me luck (even if you have to cross your fingers and hold your nose).
Thank you for engaging in the debate with me on social media over the last three years, I’ve enjoyed our sometimes heated, but mostly polite and thoughtful threads.