The most important thing to safeguard post Brexit.

Like many, I awoke yesterday morning dumbfounded by our decision to exit the EU.

By mid morning we saw the economic warnings which had been mocked become realised, and significant promises that formed the backbone of the Leave campaign, already broken.

In the midst of the ensuing turmoil one of these experts, namely the Governor of the Bank of England, was required to step in and calm the waters, giving re-assurance to the markets.

There are many highly important issues now at stake; trade agreements, freedom of movement, economic stability, together with how Britain sees itself culturally and the role it is in truth able to play in the post EU world.

For the British people, these are significant challenges which will leave no person untouched — whichever way your vote was cast.

But the most significant of all, for the long term of the nation and it’s people has only been touched upon. It must not, cannot be left to go unnoticed and unchecked.

You will not be surprised to learn, I’m sure, that I voted for Remain. I did so for a number of reasons, namely that I felt:

  • While it undoubtedly had flaws, the EU could better be fixed with us sitting as one of the ‘Big 3’ nations at the head of the table.
  • We were better able to negotiate our role in the single market while being a member of it, rather than an outsider looking to strike a deal.
  • While every country needs a sensible approach to immigration, I believe in (and have experienced) the economic and cultural benefits of freedom of movement.
  • Our trade agreements established outside of the EU have been on the basis of us providing access to the single market.

I came to these conclusions, partly through my own experience, but mostly by researching the facts and both sides of the argument.

The best example of impartial evidence I could find was this presentation by Professor Michael Dougan from the University of Liverpool. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend watching it. Post Brexit, the points made here will in fact become even more poignant than they were prior to the vote.

There was an excellent summary written in the canary which highlights for me the most critical point in this presentation.

Our laws are inextricably linked to EU law, have been since 1973 and as a result the UK legal system will need to be re-written. In other words, on top of everything else we now have to deal with, we need to comprehensively re-write the entire legal system upon which our unwritten constitution rests.

That means all of the rights of the British people are now up for review.

The nature of the time-frame required, as Dougan points out, means that this is likely to be done at a Government level — not in the Houses of Parliament.

In other words, the laws that have been created via the democratic channel of proposal in the House of Commons for debate and vote by ALL members, across all parties are now likely to be re-written by a single party in governmental control, and in an alarmingly short space of time.

No Government, formed of any single party or coalition should have the right to do this. It goes against every democratic principle and is significantly in contradiction of the claims of increased democracy gained by exit from the EU.

We have to push for this to be put back into the hands of the House of Commons. We must not let this pass us by and sweeping changes take place by the back door that could impede future generations far more greatly than the exit itself.

If control of this process is retained by the Government, then the greatest danger is in the areas of law to be tackled first.

I suspect among the first on the hit list will be:

Workers’ Rights

Quite possibly wrapped in a parcel labelled ‘in the interests of stablising our economy and making business more agile in these difficult times’. Many of the rights established in the working time directive that protect the rights of every individual working in the UK will be reviewed and are at risk of being stripped back.

Human rights act

Already in the firing line in the run up to the referendum, we can look forward to this being given close scrutiny. ‘Terror’ will be firmly back on the menu and we can look forward to pushes towards the further rolling back of our civil liberties in its name.

Immigration

Of course. The Leave campaign was built firmly on the foundations of ‘the immigration issue’, which sadly we have seen slip all too easily into the cloak of xenophobic and racist fear mongering. I do not pretend for one minute that like every other country, the immigration policy and practice of the UK wouldn’t benefit from a serious review. But I believe so from the point of view of fairness to the genuinely displaced and true economic growth through the bridging of the talent gap. In the next 5 to 10 years we are going to move into an economy which operates all the more greatly online, where working borders will become less relevant, not more. We need sensible and fair policies which address the true issues, and open us to the actual benefits to be gained.

Like many, I share the great fear and uncertainty that this last area will be the shepherds crook that steers us exactly where the right wing power base wants us. Fearful and compliantly rejecting diversity in order that the real issues pass us by unnoticed.

Moving forwards

We must keep our eyes and ears to the ground and prevent our rights and liberties from being slowly eroded. The safest route is to push for these changes to be directed through the House of Commons. It will be worth the additional time required and in the context of the mire we find ourselves in, this will hardly be making things any more difficult.

Maybe Britain will emerge better and stronger. Maybe Europe will too. But we need to remember who is truly in power here and driving the changes ahead of us. We need to ensure they don’t damage liberty, freedom and tolerance any further than they already have.

I’d like to think that these things can even be turned round for the better, but one step at a time. Step one is to protect and preserve.

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