It’s been a challenging year for Brexiteers. Fuelled by a Parliament which seemed unwilling to accept the referendum result, the People’s Vote campaign reached fever pitch – and for a few months it looked like MPs may genuinely try to railroad democracy and tie us back into the EU. Soubry, Grieve and Morgan shilled; Tony Blair wailed; the Prime Minister looked increasingly out of her depth. Celebrity Remainers like Gary Lineker and Stephen Fry screamed about a second referendum. A rump of hardcore Europhiles marched around London, draped in EU flags, scrapping over the last egg and spinach protein pot in Pret. Of course, public opinion has changed little; the people of Britain want Brexit. And Brexit they must have.
Despite the fractiousness of 2018, the fundamentals have remained on the side of Brexiteers – and we enter the New Year in a strong position. Remainers will continue to holler; but the power in their voice is diminishing. For a start, the clock is ticking. If there is no deal by the end of March, then we leave the EU on WTO terms. This is a matter of legal fact. Furthermore, there is no way for Parliament to unilaterally revoke Article 50. As a number of commentators have already noted, we have a ‘Bremain’ Parliament in a Brexit country; but the effects of that – although unwelcome – are largely mitigated by both the legal situation and the clear instructions of the people two years ago.
2019 looks set to be a great year for Brexiteers – and an even greater year for Great Britain. Angry Remainers have overplayed their hand. Support for a second referendum – always low – has bled away; any hope of securing another plebiscite killed by the realisation Labour’s leadership would not support it. Project Fear has once again been defeated by Project Future. Project Lock-the-UK-back-into-Brussels defeated by Project Set-Our-Great-Country-Free. There are many problems with Mrs. May’s Withdrawal Agreement, which we have discussed extensively on this site, and will do so further. Certainly, Ambassador Johnson’s warning that it would destroy any chance of an FTA with the States should be taken extremely seriously. We will continue to oppose Mrs. May’s agreement.
But let us begin 2019 in a spirit of huge optimism. We are so nearly there. One last heave, and not only will the repetitive, damaging arguments of 2018 be in the past, but the UK’s membership of the European Union too.
Tim Dawson is the Editor of Britain’s Future. Follow him on twitter: @tim_r_dawson