EM UK: It’s time to start talking about staying in
Just a few weeks ago people were telling us that the European Movement’s belief that staying in the EU is the best possible deal for the UK was unrealistic. Now the unchallenged view that leaving is the only option has been undermined and it is time to start talking about giving people a chance to think again about our future relationship with the European Union.
Negotiations have begun with the EU over the UK’s departure. The talks will be led by a government and a Prime Minister who have lost any authority to claim a mandate to argue for their vision of an extreme, damaging Brexit. Having first claimed that the narrow referendum outcome was a resounding mandate, they then decided that was not in fact sufficient and called a General Election to get a renewed mandate. By failing to secure a majority, they have been sent a message by British voters that they are thinking again about Brexit and what it means.
We already know that many who voted to leave last year feel that they were deceived by the Leave campaign, but now we are seeing a major shift in the language being used to discuss Brexit. We are moving from a choice between Hard or Soft Brexit to one of Soft Brexit or no Brexit at all.
There is still a very long way to go, but the conversation is starting to head in the right direction. With prices of every day items like groceries and fuel going up, wages in real terms going down, and shocking statistics coming to light about the impact that even the prospect of leaving the EU is having on the UK, it is hardly surprising that many are starting to feel very insecure about Brexit Britain.
Moreover, it is becoming painfully clear that the prospect of Brexit is dissuading people from coming to the UK to live and work. Recently, we heard the news that applications from EU nationals to be NHS nurses have plummeted by 96% in the last year. Farmers are complaining that they will not be able to harvest their crops without seasonal workers from EU countries. The National Union of Farmers estimate that the industry will require 90,000 seasonal workers a year by 2021 on top of the 250,000 permanent workers of which three quarters come from other EU countries.
It isn’t just farmers who are beginning to have strong reservations about where Brexit is heading. A recent poll of 3,000 readers by the Sunderland Echo found a staggering 63% would now choose to stay if there were another vote. That represents a staggering shift in public opinion in a city that voted strongly to leave last year.
We have a very long way to go, but the mood has decisively changed. Our unstable government lacks the authority to press on with its Brexit agenda and public opinion is beginning to move dramatically. The European Movement has never wavered in its message that not only should we remain in the EU, but that the UK should be at the heart of it. Senior figures in Germany and France have made it clear that the door is open if we wish to change our minds.
Our activists are out on the street spreading that message. Together we can decisively reverse course and make sure that future generations do not have to suffer the consequences of being on the outside of the EU looking in.