A soft Brexit is the best way to avoid civil war.
My name is Phil Marzouk and I am an ardent remainer… yet I may vote to leave in the squishiest of Brexits in a Final Say referendum.
Now before any Liberal Democrats start accusing me of heresy, there are a number of events that have to happen before I take that decision.
First and foremost, this general election must take us towards a Final Say by electing a Labour-led government.
Going into this election, many commentators and politicians are continuously saying that Labour’s Brexit deal is unclear, yet, it is remarkably simple.
If Labour were given the reigns on Brexit, they would be seeking a deal with the EU which would involve us staying in the customs union and single market. Therefore the UK would be keeping close economic ties with EU.
However, the UK would be breaking away from the European Court of Justice, providing many a Brexiteer with the ‘sovereignty’ they so crave.
This also benefits the implementation of Labour’s radical agenda as fundamentally neo-liberal directives from the EU would no longer impact domestic policy.
So far, so Lexit: a stance I understood but never supported. So have I reached the point where I would vote to leave? Not yet.
Many mistakenly think that this deal wouldn’t be palatable to the EU, but it is in fact much closer to what they always wanted: Britain not to leave the union. Were Labour to return to the EU with such a proposal, they would certainly agree to keep us so economically close.
Gone are negotiators who believe that memories of the Empire carry weight. Gone are ‘Britain Trump’ or your ‘surly’, ‘not particularly pleasant’ Maybot. Gone are any Tory red-lines that would accept nothing but the hardest of Brexits.
There is one caveat to the EU’s willingness to come around to such a deal: they will demand that we keep Freedom of Movement. Okay, now that leave box is looking a bit more enticing.
In September this year, Labour members voted to have the party agree to keep Freedom of Movement as party policy. Going forward, Labour would be foolish to campaign actively for this, but if Labour politicians can hold their nerve, it will naturally return. When the time comes, the EU will demand that concession, and Labour will have to accept it.
So now we’re looking at a Brexit deal that keeps Britain close to the EU economically, separates us legally from the ECJ but keeps citizens socially mobile. Is this gooey Brexit better than remaining in the EU in 2016? No, but in 2020 that deal is the best possible option.
Key to this, and this is in no way hyperbolic, is that we are a country on the brink of a civil war.
A survey conducted by Cardiff University and the University of Edinburgh found that 70% of leave voters think violence against MPs is a ‘price worth paying’ to ensure Brexit is delivered; 55% of remain voters believe the same about stopping it.
Those are the figures of a country that seems inescapably divided, but I have come to believe that there is only one way to solve this: the above marshmallow Brexit.
You’ll still have the likes of Farage, Boris and their big band of Brexit blowhards screaming that “this is a Brexit in name alone” but I wonder at this point, will anyone care?
The vast majority of the public who still want to leave aren’t begging for a hard Brexit, they just want any Brexit. Furthermore, if this election results in a left-wing majority, Parliament will have the numbers to get this baby-food Brexit through the Commons.
This Labour deal gives the vast majority of leave voters what they want: to officially leave the EU. However this deal maintains so much of what motivated many remain votes in the first place: a close relationship with our closest neighbours.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s just make sure that December delivers a Labour-led government that can take steps towards a crème Brûléxit that I can get behind in a Final Say. And hey, if the deal looks any different to what I expect, I’ll be voting to remain.
Phil Marzouk is a journalist and filmaker
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