Last month I argued against a snap General Election, saying it could detract from the Brexit cause. Now, however, this election is happening, with Parliament voting overwhelmingly in April for a General Election on June 8th. So moving forward, it’s time now for Eurosceptics to focus on the positives the next few weeks can bring.
One circumstance which has changed in recent weeks, and which might have encouraged Prime Minister Theresa May to call the snap election, is Labour’s ludicrous “six tests” for any Brexit deal. These “tests” include the demand that the deal provide “the exact same benefits as the Single Market and the Customs Union”. Despite Labour MPs trying to appease their Brexit-supporting base by voting to trigger Article 50 in Parliament and claiming to respect the EU Referendum result, at the moment it’s clear Jeremy Corbyn’s party intends to try to thwart Brexit when it comes to a final vote in 2019. The “six tests” are just excuses, laying the groundwork for Labour’s attempt to subvert the will of the people.
With Gina Miller, who has responded to the General Election being called by forming an anti-Brexit tactical voting campaign (ironically called “Best for Britain”), planning yet another court case to get Labour and the Liberal Democrats the “meaningful vote” they so desperately desire on a Brexit deal, support for the deal in the House of Commons had until recently not been guaranteed. This General Election will, hopefully, give Theresa May the opportunity to ensure any Brexit deal will sail through the House of Commons, thanks to an increased Conservative majority and a strong personal mandate.
One argument against a General Election had been to avoid wasting some of the crucial two-year Brexit negotiating period, which began on March 29th. However, the EU has tried to take the announcement of the election in its stride, and has insisted the vote will not disrupt the Article 50 process. This should come as no surprise. In the last few weeks, it has become clear the EU will need time to work out their approach to these negotiations – EU leaders took an entire month before holding their first summit to discuss their stance – and so the talks will only get into full swing after June 8th anyway. Conveniently for the EU, this will also allow talks to start with the new French President in place – and whoever wins this race on Sunday could significantly change the game. Talks may also only pick up speed once Angela Merkel’s fate is decided after German elections in September.
The General Election will also offer the Great British Public an opportunity to re-send a message to the EU – and to the world. Many figures in politics – and the press on the Continent – are still labouring under the misapprehension Brexit can be reversed somehow or other, due to mass regret (or “Bregret”) among Leave voters. Even Xavier Bettel – Prime Minister of the small country of Luxembourg – buys into this myth, calling for a re-run of our EU Referendum.
A strong vote for pro-Brexit parties and candidates at the General Election will dispel these myths once and for all, and will prove to the world the British people are serious about leaving the EU.
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The General Election will be an opportunity for us to reinforce the message that we do not regret voting for Brexit – nor do we want the diluted Brexit favoured by much of the Labour Party. We will show once again that we are behind the idea of a real Brexit, where we leave the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union, while negotiating a mutually-beneficial free-trade agreement with the EU, and continuing to co-operate – where appropriate – with our European allies. The Great British Public do not want to leave Europe – we have voted to leave only the European Union.
Not all of us wanted this General Election – neither did Theresa May until quite recently. Now it is happening, Eurosceptics – and those who are still unsure one way or another – should focus on the potential benefits and work hard towards achieving them. We are closer than ever to the day we will get Britain out of the European Union, achieving our aims – taking back control of our laws, our borders, our money, and our trade policy. On June 8th, we can make it all but certain.
Joseph Hackett is a Research Executive at Get Britain Out.