Although many Conservatives voted Remain in last year’s EU referendum (the vast majority for economic reasons), since the vote Conservative MPs and wider party supporters have largely accepted the result and are seeking to make the best of our new reality.
Continued opposition to Brexit comes almost entirely from those on the Left, including the BBC and sections of the press, which seem intent on attributing every piece of negative news to our decision to leave the EU, while concluding every good news headline with the phrase ‘despite Brexit’.
There are intuitive explanations for this. Unlike socialism, Conservative ideology seeks to preserve the best of Britain’s distinctive character. It reveres our institutions, recognising that while they may be easy to destroy, they are much harder to replace with satisfactory alternatives. It also looks fondly upon our history, seeing our culture and socio-economic system as something worth promoting and defending.
Leaving the EU hands sovereignty back to our domestic institutions and liberates us from European interference, allowing us to uphold our idiosyncratic British traditions. It is therefore natural that most Conservatives are able to envisage at least some benefits to our soon-to-be-conveyed freedoms.
Leftists, meanwhile, seek to undermine British institutions and history at every turn. Our constitutional settlement is seen as class-ridden and self-serving; our history viewed as repressive and imperialist. In every conflict since World War II, Corbyn and his ilk have supported Britain’s enemies. Every Middle Eastern conflict, they maintain, can be traced back to some ill-conceived ‘Western’ intervention. In their eyes, Britain and her allies lack any sort of moral authority whatsoever.
The more our history is portrayed by the Left as heartless and archaic, the more illegitimate and morally bankrupt they make our institutions and international dealings appear, the easier it is to convince people that our system should be replaced with ‘modern’, vacuous alternatives. EU membership has been used as a tool by the Left to dissociate ourselves from our past and to remould Britain into an unremarkable, cosmopolitan region of a single European super-state.
For many on the Left, the EU has become regarded as a proxy for progressivism and tolerance. Their preference for protectionism leads them to support membership of the Customs Union, and existential fears about appearing to be seen as any way ‘racist’ mean they daren’t oppose our membership of the Single Market, which would put an end to the free movement of people. Yet membership of these bodies directly contradicts their supposed concern for the poorest in society.
It is a fact that free trade helps the poorest most. It not only supports the least well-off in Britain by reducing the cost of food, clothes and other basic goods, it also allows producers in the Third World to export their wares to new markets and so work their way out of poverty. The Customs Union, however, prevents free trade by erecting tariffs against non-EU states, resulting in Third World farmers being priced out of EU markets, and food in British shops costing around 22 per cent more than it should.
EU free movement rules also hurt the poorest as they result in the incomes of low earners becoming suppressed due to a glut of low-skilled labour. The EU’s decision to allow in millions of undocumented migrants in violation of the Dublin Convention means this is only likely to get worse. Leftists are therefore in the curious position of wanting to make the lives of the least fortunate more difficult. Their hypocrisy should not go unchallenged.
The government should therefore remain steadfast in its rejection of the so-called ‘soft Brexit’ option. Leaving the EU, along with its institutional appendages, will allow Britain to maintain and strengthen its ancient constitutional settlement and cultural distinctiveness. It will enable us to construct an ethically robust and economically expedient free trading future, and permit us to implement a more advantageous and morally defensible immigration policy. Conservatives should therefore rejoice and embrace our future as a fully independent sovereign nation.