It could all have been so different

by Alan Davies, FUW Managing Director

IT could all have been so different, so, so different. If only David Cameron had given this a bit more thought it could all have been so different from the challenging mess that we now find ourselves in.

Cameron called the EU referendum for a whole host of reasons, and some that were clearly not about the future of the country. Throughout the referendum period, he had an almost blind faith that the Remain vote would win. I remember challenging him during a farm visit in the Conwy Valley and telling him that the Economy argument would not resonate widely. He looked shocked, physically shocked that anyone could be warning of an “out” victory. But he plodded on.

His biggest mistake in my opinion though was the way he managed the fallout from the vote. Choosing to walk away was a weak way out and did nothing to address the need for strong leadership with a positive approach.

Instead, if he had formed a neutral commission, cross‐party, multi‐discipline, armed with data and analysts and far fewer ideologues, we could have got somewhere. The body could have been tasked to produce a plan, an acceptable offering that might deliver the so‐called “will of the people” in a non‐damaging way. Then we might have got round much of the nonsense of the last 30 months. This commission could have produced something truly workable that Government would then have a policy that they could then place before the House of Commons and the EU and even the nation as a plan that would work.

Instead we have had nearly two and a half years of nonsense where political posturing and party idealism have got in the way of any new thinking, got in the way of a need to accept, what for many is still an unpopular decision and to make something of it and got in the way of maintaining this nation’s position in the global order.

And all for lack of a plan. And even without a plan,

someone fired the starting gun to launch the Article 50 process. That meant that we were in a withdrawal process without knowing what we wanted, whilst facing up to a negotiating opponent that had experienced negotiators who definitely knew what they wanted.

In effect, by not having a plan and by starting the process supported by vacuous phrases such as “Brexit means Brexit” we lost control of where we were going and how we might get there.

And it is to overcome the lack of control that we have in recent months been so clear in proposing that the Government revokes Article 50 ‐ to take back control of all that is happening.

It requires no external agreement to revoke A5 0 , it requires no external agreement to set up a new commission as outlined above, to develop a new way forward, it requires no external agreement to win the will of Parliament and even the will of the people if necessary and, of course, it would require no external agreement to start a new A50 process once again if that were deemed the right way forward.

Sadly our voice has not been well received: Most talk of revoking A5 0 has been to stop it in its tracks not to find a controlled way forward. For some that will undermine the democratic principles of the 2 0 1 6 referendum, something we have not suggested.

Instead, we are not in a position where we have people in office but not in power, governments in name, been controlled in Parliament by backbenchers. And our national standing has collapsed.

There is a lesson here: If you want anything to change, it generally takes time, but investing some time at the start of the process is far better than leaping in with no plan for success. It could all have been so different.

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