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Brexit Myth #3 17.4 million people voted for the (current) government’s (current) version of Brexit

September 25, 2019 5:35 PM
By Peter Dobbs

Brexit Myth #1 revised

Judging from headlines in the right wing media you might have thought that all 17.4 million who voted leave in the 2016 referendum were of one mind as to what they expected to happen when they placed their cross in the box on June 23rd.

They wanted to leave, no matter what the economic and social costs might be. They voted for a 'hard Brexit'.

This claim does not bear any kind of scrutiny. Many examples exist of a clear diversity of outcomes in the minds of leave voters in 2016. There was a clear spectrum of opinion from the Ipswich voter quoted by ex Conservative MP Ben Gummer who voted leave "to stop gay marriage" to the free marketeers like Jacob Rees-Mogg who see leaving the EU as the final step in the de-regulation process started by Mrs Thatcher and who voted to avoid the scrutiny that the EU provides.

In fact there were probably hundreds of different outcomes in those 'leave minds' - after all when faced with a choice of 'current situation' v 'paint your own rosy picture of the future' we tend to let our optimism influence our judgement. Absolutely no attempt was made by the Leave campaign to manage expectations and it was happy to pull in all varieties of grievance, by tacitly accepting that they would be solved by leaving the EU.

Following their unexpected 'win' in the referendum those different factions in the Conservative Party (and elsewhere) have each clamoured for their version of Brexit to take centre stage. Rather than acknowledge the closeness of the result and seek a 'soft brexit' the Conservative government have taken an increasingly hard stance on the version of brexit that they will accept. It is therefore hardly surprising that many of those 16.1 million people who voted to remain have become increasingly determined to prevent such an economic and social disaster occuring.

Numerous examples exist in the history of nations as well as in their folk tales of the folly of the 'victor' not being magnanimous in their triumph. We can now add to that litany the sorry tale of a government held to ransom by a relatively small group of right wingers who have almost certainly driven their brexit dreams into the ground.