LeaveHQ, 03/07/2019  

Our most viewed article, and perhaps our main contribution to the debate, entitled "What's wrong with the WTO Option", originally published in 2016, continues to circulate on Twitter. We said "One can say, unequivocally, that the UK could not survive as a trading nation by relying on the WTO Option. It would be an unmitigated disaster, and no responsible government should allow it. The option should be rejected".

For us as a political campaign, that was pretty much a suicide note. Though there is no official voice of Brexit, the campaign organisations associated with Vote Leave (BrexitCentral etc) have control over the narrative and we fell foul of the Brexit orthodoxy. There has been a sustained campaign on the part of the Brexit blob in London to redefine the WTO Option as the One True Brexit and by the looks of it, it worked a treat. Consequently The Leave Alliance fails the purity test ensuring we have to fight through the noise to be heard at all.

Though there is no majority in the country for a no deal Brexit, leaving without a deal seems to be the one thing the leave camp can agree on. The propaganda is etched in and they will learn the hard way why we cannot trade normally on WTO terms. 

Here there is a strong tribal dynamic. With a subject as complex as Brexit, much of what is believed is taken on trust from those who are considered kosher sources. That trust has been abused. The Brexit blob has its own cabal of wise men who wilfully misrepresent the issues. They dream up all manner of nostrums to get them over the line, from claiming the WTO agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade overcomes EU third country controls, through to the absurd suggestion that GATT Article 24 can be invoked to ensure the continuity of tariff free trade.

Though this dynamic is unhealthy for any democracy, it's worth asking how we got here. The rank and file Brexiters may believe anything served up to them by the Brexit blob, but more crucially, they simply do not believe anything said by anyone else. With good reason.

There is a peculiar dynamic in British politics where political parties are eurosceptic in opposition, but europhile in government. The Tories have always paid lip service to euroscepticism but have never been trustworthy. Then there's the wider media, not least the BBC which has a well documented pro-EU bias spanning decades, where eurosceptics have been the but of every joke in its comedy output, belittling and ridiculing genuine worry about the direction of the EU project.

Our own politicians of all stripes have never been honest about the nature of the project with some even to this day insisting that the EU is but a mere "trade bloc", often conflating the EU with "Europe". Leavers are also used to betrayal. We were denied a referendum on Lisbon which was smuggled in by the back door, and freedom of movement was introduced on the quiet so by the time anyone noticed anything was up, the ink would already be dry. Our establishment does not ask for consent because they know they won't get it. 

Even now, parliament has shown itself to be wholly duplicitous. Though they voted to allow Theresa May to send the Article 50 notification, every parliamentary initiative since has been with a view to stopping Brexit despite campaigning on a leave ticket, and being on record saying that the vote must be respected. That didn't last long. Preventing no deal has become a euphemism for stopping Brexit and now both sides are playing double or quits to the point where we will leave without a deal mainly because we've run out of road.

Had parliament humbly accepted the verdict of 2016 and worked constructively toward delivering Brexit then we might not be at this unhappy crossroads - but for all that was said, MPs were merely biding their time, waiting for the right moment - and having gambled it all by voting down the withdrawal agreement, they also killed the one guarantee against leaving without a deal.

Brexit has now moved beyond the mechanics of striking a new deal with the EU. It has become an all out war, where the accumulation of deceit and betrayal over the decades has toxified the issue and clouded our better judgement. Consequently, facts have ceased to matter. Knowledge and expertise take a back seat while the ideologues slug it out, leaving the rest of us to pick up the pieces.

If Britain is to claw its way back to political stability, then it is for parliament to rebuild trust. Unless and until we leave the EU there is no possibility of that. Parliament has squandered every opportunity to secure an amicable departure and failed to properly understand what the 2016 vote meant to those who have waited so long for any kind of say. They assumed the vote was something that could be casually disposed of. That miscalculation wiped out any possibility of trust. Now we will all pay the price.  

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