“Remain” side need to change tactics

I have written many times here of the risk of the echo chamber (particularly in this social media era) and of how left-liberals are in fact the most inclined towards inhabiting one.

Various organisations have sprung up across the UK to contest Brexit, in one way or other. They cover the whole spectrum from challenging the way the UK Government is going about leaving the EU to challenging the whole notion that the UK should leave.

Logically, they have an excellent case. There will be no £350 million a week for the NHS (particularly after a whole raft of new administrators have been appointed merely to administer Brexit); actually the EU does not have to give us a good deal (even Brexiteers now admit they may not even get a deal at all); and prices are beginning to shoot up (affecting primarily those on low and fixed incomes in places like Sunderland and Sheffield which voted to leave). Throw in lots of legal wrangling, uncertainty over how the UK will trade at all post-2019 and the fact that immigration from the EU will be untouched for several years even after Brexit, and in fact the case for simply remaining becomes rationally almost unanswerable.

Yet none of that actually matters. And, by the way, there is very little evidence that vast swathes of “Leave” voters have changed their mind; indeed, many of the 48% are now resigned to leaving the EU (quite possibly because they only voted “Remain” to avoid the currency crash which as already happened).

There is a real risk that the “New Remain” campaigners are about to make all the same mistakes as the old ones – not least because many of them are in fact the same people. They continue to focus on numbers (i.e. on “economic arguments”), when what won the referendum was a more emotional argument. Indeed, the only time “Remain” had a real lead in the polls was when its campaign was focusing not on figures but on global influence (i.e. on the contention that the UK is in fact more globally influential as a key member of the world’s largest trading bloc than it would/will be once it is isolated from it).

If people are serious about avoiding “Hard” Brexit, or even about avoiding Brexit at all, they have to convinced a considerable number of people who voted “Leave”. Let us ask a simple question: how many of those people are going to be persuaded by campaign messages which essentially say “Brexiteers are stupid”?

What is required instead (and I have no idea how possible or probable this is) is a campaign which appeals to the heart. For me (though I would love to research this in detail), it needs to start with a sense of loss from the potential lack of free movement, particularly for our young people seeking out new challenges and careers, which would surely arise from “Hard” Brexit. Then there needs to be some discussion of exactly how secure we are if we are essentially annoying our neighbours; and then exactly what our place is in the world (assuming we do not want to be Trump’s poodle, which is surely a safe enough assumption); and then perhaps about what a success multicultural Britain actually is. (That last is definitely a hard sell, but ask most foreigners what they most admire about Britain and its easy-going diversity may well be up there.)

In other words, what is required is a hearts-and-minds campaign which probably ends up asking “Is this who we are?”

That will be something quite different from George Osborne sitting in a hotel saying every household will lose £4300 due to Brexit. Which was a mistruth lie, by the way…


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