Shell-game on NHS and 'points system' must give way to answers
When debating the EU referendum result, Leave voters will often defend the process – one of big lies and bigger promises – as an exercise in democracy.
But as the Prime Minister appears to edge away from key pledges made by the Leave campaign on the NHS and migration, this becomes a less and less tenable position.
Headed for the G20 summit in China, Theresa May seemed to say the ‘Australian points-based system’ promised by half her cabinet ministers during the referendum – not least Boris Johnson, now foreign secretary – might not work, adding that there was no ‘single silver bullet’ to the problem of immigration, (one she apparently imagines as a metaphorical werewolf).
The Prime Minister has also refused to affirm any of the Leaver’s pledges on extra funding for the NHS or cuts to VAT on energy bills.
Since the referendum allowed the official campaigns (and sometimes Nigel Farage, the unofficial Leave spokesman) to define what Leave and Remain actually meant, (one of many flaws in its ‘democratic’ nature), it could be argued that people who voted Leave did so expecting these promises to be kept.
Farage himself was early out of the gate in saying so following May’s remarks.
All the more reason for voters on either side to question the ‘democracy’ in having a Prime Minister without a public mandate keeping our country’s future a mystery, and acting the Cheshire Cat whenever asked what she plans to do.
It’s really not good enough to simply repeat ‘Brexit means Brexit’ like a parrot and expect people to believe this tells us anything. Though it might sound decisive, it’s really a sign of insecurity – a pro-Remain PM seeking to reassure her party and a restless electorate.
May is enjoying a honeymoon with the press, public and her party, but there’s nothing stateswomen-like about uttering nonsense like this while refusing to answer straight questions.
We need to know if the government is seeking the Brexit of Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox, (as their appointments to her Brexit talks team would suggest), or whether the PM has something else in mind, and if so, what?
It’s bad enough having all of this decided over our heads, but the lack of transparency makes a mockery of this being an exercise in people power.
And as with the status of EU migrants in Britain, these clear-as-mud positions have an real impact on people’s lives.
Theresa May might believe another Brexit is possible, but if so she ought to tell us what it looks like, and people should demand to know what ‘Brexit means Brexit’ actually means.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.
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