One of the things that frustrates Leavers and broad neutrals about harder line Remainers is that Remainers appear to back the EU position in the Brexit negotiations so readily.
It is absolutely reasonable to point out that no one is in fact responsible for delivering what Leave voters wanted. It is further entirely fair to add that the UK seems peculiarly unprepared and it is a simple fact of life that it has very few negotiating cards. It is important to point out that you cannot, in fact, have your cake and eat it.
Nevertheless, promoting all of those lines is not the same as supporting the EU negotiating position at every turn. It is essential for all of us that the negotiations come to a satisfactory conclusion and merely saying “I told you so” does not assist that process.
It is worth challenging the EU’s position as well as the UK’s. If we look at the EU’s position, how sensible is it, really?
My own view is that some of it is very sensible. The door has been left open to the UK remaining in; there has been a far more realistic acceptance that any final Brexit deal will be lose-lose (the EU does not deny that it will lose too if the UK proceeds to leave); and there has been a recognition that the UK is important to Europe in general for many reasons.
On the other hand, some aspects of the EU position are less reasonable and arguably outright bizarre. Firstly, there has been no sense within the EU institutions of questioning what they have done to make their second biggest member head for the exit door. Secondly, it is odd to make the details of an “exit bill” so prominent so early, as this surely depends somewhat on what the UK’s future relationship with it; and thirdly, similarly, the exact requirements for the Irish border depend again on what the UK’s relationship with the Single Market and the Customs Union, among other things.
Therefore, the EU’s positions and priorities are far from perfect. On all of our behalves, regardless of how or if we voted in the referendum, we do need to challenge both sides fairly to drive the best possible outcome for us all.