New Brexit Forum Created

Progressive Politics has now added a Brexit Forum to site’s list of features.

Brexit is not only the defining issue of this Parliament, but almost certainly, the political issue that will dominate the politics of a generation.Some believe the will of the people must be followed, as so the debate becomes one of a soft or hard Brexit. Others believe that the end result of the negotiations may be so horrendous that the British people may well change their mind; they should have the chance to speak on the final settlement in a final referendum. Others are dedicated to campaigning for the Britain to either remain in the EU or to seek to rejoin at a future date.

You may think it a little over the top to suggest that this issue will dominate politics in such a way but, as I approach my 60th birthday, I remind myself that the very first national vote I took part in was the first referendum on Europe. Throughout all of my political adult life the issue of Europe — and Britain’s relationship to it — has not been far from the headlines.

The Brexiteers have reminded us of the value of long term political thinking and campaigning, just as the Monetarist economists did a generation or so ago. In the face of the post war settlement and political consensus, economists like Milton Friedman dug in for a long, hard, political battle. It took the Monetarists until the mid 1970s before they found their champions in the likes of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The Brexiteers have shown similar stamina. For many years most of us thought the Brexiteers to be, frankly, bonkers but yet they won out in the end. It is a reminder that we cannot take progressive values from granted as we move through the years. We cannot always move forwards. We have to have a view to defending and consolidating what was won.

In reality, Labour has long been as divided over Europe as the Tories but for much of the Blair/Brown years that division ran alongside the Parliamentary mainstream and left divide. Cornyn’s election as Leader — as in so many areas of policy — has many scratching their heads as to what Labour really now believes over Europe.

Over the last six months we have seen a growth in both national and local movements dedicated to fighting or overturning the Brexit decision. At the heart of these groups are young people for whom this is without doubt the defining political issue of the age. Having worked with them a while now I don’t doubt this fervour will be long lasted.

And so there is much to discuss about Brexit but we need to move beyond the decision that have already taken (whatever we think of them).

What will life in Britain look like in a post Brexit world? What are the challenges for our economy? How midge Brexit impact on our social and welfare security? And what might Brexit mean to the very make up of the UK and to our institutions of governance?

This issue will run and run. It is vital that — on this issue — Labour moves onto the front foot and seeks to lead opinion rather than simply respond the agenda setting of Theresa May and her colleagues.

So, whether you are pro EU or anti, whether you are for a hard Brexit or soft, or whether you feel we should be campaigning to stay in or seek return at some future debate, your views are welcome.

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