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Brexit remains a polarising subject six years after the referendum on EU membership. While Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his colleagues in Government work to “get Brexit done”, an academic has claimed that leading Brexiteers are starting to acknowledge flaws in their plan. Chris Grey, Emeritus Professor of Organisation Studies at Royal Holloway and ex-Professor at Cambridge University, cited recent comments from figures like Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lord David Frost and Rishi Sunak. Mr Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said the damage done by Brexit to trade with the EU was “inevitable” in March.
Mr Rees-Mogg, Brexit Opportunities Minister, also said in May customs and SPS checks scheduled to be phased in from July this year will be delayed for the fourth time, calling it an “act of self-harm”.
And former Brexit Minister Lord Frost has repeatedly denounced the Northern Ireland Protocol as unworkable, despite the fact he and Mr Johnson agreed to it as part of the Brexit deal.
Writing for his blog ‘Brexit and Beyond’, Mr Grey said Brexiteers “implicitly or explicitly admit to the failures of the Brexit they agreed or supported, whilst denying or ignoring that the cause is the Brexit they agreed or supported”.
The expert also noted another argument for backing Brexit, which “takes the form of claiming Brexit to have been a success compared with predictions of the damage it would cause”.
He then added: “What is striking is how convoluted some of these arguments are, and how defensive.
“If Brexit had been even half as successful as it was claimed it was going to be then, by now, you’d expect that to be easily demonstrable and increasingly self-evident even to those who had formerly doubted, or at least to a growing number of them.
“You would also expect a growing self-confidence from Brexiters so that they would feel no need to jibe – as [Tim] Montgomery does – at ‘remoaners’.
“The magnanimity of victory, even though it eluded them in 2016, would by now be theirs.
“There would be clear signs of Brexit at least moving towards meeting the test for its success set by Frost himself, namely that by 2031 ‘nobody is questioning Brexit. It was self-evidently the right thing to do.’”
With these comments in mind, do you regret the fact the UK chose to leave the EU? Vote in our poll and join the debate in the comments section below.
While Brexit still comes under fire from Remainers, there seems to be little appetite for the UK to rejoin the EU.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was a prominent Remainer, but in February, he ruled out pushing for a reversal of Brexit.
Speaking to BBC Radio Newcastle, he said: “We have exited the EU and we are not going back – let me be very clear in the north east about that. There is no case for rejoining.
“What I want to see now is not just Brexit done in the sense that we’re technically out of the EU, I want to make it work. I want to make sure we take advantage of the opportunities and we have a clear plan for Brexit.”
In January 2021, Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey said his party would not campaign for the UK to rejoin the EU despite the party’s strong calls for a second referendum in the 2019 election.
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However, in March, it was reported that the Lib Dems will set out a roadmap for the UK to rejoin the single market.
Layla Moran, the party’s Europe spokesperson, cited the war in Ukraine as an illustration of why the UK and EU “cannot afford to be disunited”.
She said: “For too long, our ties with Europe have been defined by petty squabbling and the government’s overly ideological approach.
“British people and small businesses who are tangled in red tape are paying the price, and they deserve better.
“The reality is that we need a way forward which works for Britain – one where we stand with our allies, reduce costs for businesses, and make people better off as a result. Our comprehensive roadmap will start a new trading relationship with Europe – with British businesses and families benefiting as a result.”
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