28/06/2016 Leave a comment
They say a week is a long time in Politics and as the dust settles on the decision to leave the EU it certainly true of this one.
The county has decided to leave the EU not by a massive majority but importantly by a majority and here in Suffolk by a margin slightly higher than the national average. Where I live in Forest Heath the numbers were 64.91% or 18,160 for LEAVE & 35% 9,971 for REMAIN, so almost 2 to 1 in favour to leave. In Suffolk as a whole it was 57.8% to leave and 42.2% to remain so higher than the national average for both.
I have seen the online parliamentary petition now signed by over 3m people calling for another Referendum, but it just can’t work like that. If you have a vote whatever the decision taken by the majority, that has to be the decision, even if you think it’s the wrong decision. Anything else and the whole country would politically enter into a sort of stalemate loop and the economy would tank, but hey its probably doing that anyway in the short term. So the decision is made and now we need to take stock and plan what our future relationship with Europe will be with our partners in Europe. However whilst EU exit is an important policy area, it’s but one, the Government has a big legislative agenda and it needs to get back to that as soon as it possibly can, with a new Leader.
I am personally sorry to see David Cameron go, as I think he is an Honourable man, but completely understand his thinking. 100 days out from Thursday’s Poll Day I was invited to meet him after he gave a speech at the Port of Felixstowe and I thought then that he would go if we voted to Leave, as he said himself, Friday morning, he did put his heart, head and soul into it. Now Conservative Westminster MPs will pick a short list of two candidates and Party members will be balloted on who should lead the Party and thus become the Prime Minister. There will be a rush to join the party and everyone who feels they are Conservatives are welcome but only those Party Members and Scottish Party Members who were members of the Party from the time of the call for nominations by the Chairman of the 1922 Committee for the election of the Leader and have been members for at least three months immediately prior to the close of the ballot for the election of the Leader shall be entitled to vote.
So why did we vote to leave the EU and for what it’s worth its seems to me it broadly boils down to three things. We voted on whether leaving the EU would slow the rate of migration to this county which is a real concern to many of us and it’s probably will a bit, the project fear about the economy that worked so successfully in Scotland’s Devolution debate just did not resonate and finally with regards decision making we will gain a bit more sovereignty but conversely lose influence in our single biggest market place.
There is also something about old fashioned campaigning and messaging. During the campaign You Gov ran polling on the messaging of the REMAIN and LEAVE campaigns which made for interesting reading. In essence the top three messages that people remembered or held were all from the Leave campaign. The £350M per week claim was number one, next was the 330,000 net migration into this country per annum and third was the claims being made about the potential new counties seeking to become a part of the EU and the possible future migration that access to free movement within the EU might bring. So for all the claims and counter claims, messaging that resonates was and always has been what wins elections. Of course the Leave campaign team are now distancing themselves from the aspects of their comments about the £350M to go to the NHS and other claims which is appalling but it’s also true to say that the REMAIN campaign did not effectively neutralise these falsehoods, nor from the You Gov polling get their messages across.
Then you can start to read, what no doubt will be the subject of numerous books over time, the deeper analysis emerging in the broadsheets about the ‘left-behinders’ and the North/South divide, the Young/Old divide, how Labour failed to get its core vote to support the Remain campaign etc., etc., etc. The truth is probably a heady mix of all of these, adding in the campaign messaging as well.
I have been fairly clear in what I believed in during the course of the campaign and that I think we have made the wrong decision and we should be worried about the economic impact, the look on the Bank of England’s boss at the end of his speech designed to calm the markets Friday morning said it all. And I do have concerns about the stability of Europe and that should worry us all long term, the original concept of the EU was about collective security and whoever emerges as the new Conservative Prime Minister must be mindful of that. There also seems to be a rise in hate crime and all of us must stand up to stop this, leaving the EU is one thing but racism is utterly unacceptable.
More locally it all comes at an interesting time in local Government as we debate Devolution in every single council chamber across Norfolk and Suffolk this coming week. Some will be talking about a possible change of emphasis in DCLG but that may or may not happen. But what does strike me is that as powers are returned from Brussels they must not be simply lifted and dropped into Whitehall and Westminster. The county has just voted for more local control of decision and that should include more decisions taken, not in Brussels, not in Whitehall, but in our local councils by local people elected to represent their local communities.
The decision is made and we need to careful plan the future.