The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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There’s nothing open-minded about reversing Brexit

European Council President Donald Tusk has suggested Britons could have a "change of heart" about Brexit.
Photograph: European People's Party, Wikimedia Commons

In a recent speech to the European Parliament, European Council President Donald Tusk claimed that Brexit would become a reality unless Britons have a "change of heart". His words echo persistent demands among Remain-supporting figures in British politics for a second referendum on EU membership, suggesting the electorate should keep "an open mind" about reversing Brexit. There's nothing wrong about keeping an open mind, but there's also nothing open-minded about reversing Brexit.

There was a time for open, honest debate about Britain's place in the EU, and that was during the campaign period leading up to the June, 2016 referendum on EU membership. Indeed, the Brexit debate dominated TV, print, and online media. In fact, almost 15,000 articles were published online across 20 national news outlets during the official campaign period, eclipsing all other political issues.

After months of impassioned debate from all sides, record numbers of Britons showed up to vote. With a turnout of 72.2%, compared to the previous year's general election turnout of 66.4%, voters were keen to express what they thought about Britain's place in the EU.

Now that it's clear how Britons feel about EU membership, it's time for Remain-supporting politicians to keep an open mind about the fact that 17.4 million of their compatriots decided to leave.

Beyond Britain's recent discussion on EU membership, a lot can be said about the EU's consistent inability to keep an open mind about any direction that reverses integration. Brussels is known for quashing dissenting points of view, as it did when "virtually all" eurozone finance ministers, and several national leaders were agreed that Greece should temporarily exit the common currency in 2015, only for Tusk to forbid German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras from leaving the negotiating room without an agreement. The currency union, however flawed, had to be preserved.

If anything, Tusk and other EU leaders should ask themselves whether Britons might have decided to remain, had the EU shown more flexibility to address their concerns. As British MEP Daniel Hannan argues in a recent tweet, "If Tusk and [European Commission President Jean-Claude] Juncker wanted Britain to stay in the EU, they'd propose a looser arrangement. Their refusal to contemplate such a thing explains why we're leaving".

The time for debate on Britain's EU membership was in 2016. Britons have made their decision, and it's now time for the political class to be open-minded about how best to move forward as an independent nation.

This article is from The Eurosceptic

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Comments 2

Guest - Guest on Monday, 22 January 2018 18:14

Re: Daniel Hannan MEP's comments.

Students of history will have noted that neither Harold Wilson in 1974-75 or David Cameron in 2016 sought to take powers back from the EU (also previously known as the EEC). There might be a very good reason for this - it isn't possible legally. EU law has such delights as regarding the limitation on national sovereignty to be permanent once powers have been ceded from national level. (ECJ Case 6/64)

Looser arrangements simply aren't possible when the name of the game is building a superstate using the twin tracks of integrating member states' economies and political systems. The legal system is also so biased towards integration that member state 'competences' don't even equate to protected powers.

Maybe when he made the referendum pledge, Cameron innocently thought it might be possible to reverse integration? Although the FCO declined to answer a Freedom of Information request on whether powers could be taken back, his Europe Minister David Lidington was a bit more savvy, admitting to a private audience that the transfer of powers was irrevocable.

So let's be under no illusions that giving EU membership a second chance would make things any better. The people got it right on 23rd June 2016.

Re: Daniel Hannan MEP's comments. Students of history will have noted that neither Harold Wilson in 1974-75 or David Cameron in 2016 sought to take powers back from the EU (also previously known as the EEC). There might be a very good reason for this - it isn't possible legally. EU law has such delights as regarding the limitation on national sovereignty to be permanent once powers have been ceded from national level. (ECJ Case 6/64) Looser arrangements simply aren't possible when the name of the game is building a superstate using the twin tracks of integrating member states' economies and political systems. The legal system is also so biased towards integration that member state 'competences' don't even equate to protected powers. Maybe when he made the referendum pledge, Cameron innocently thought it might be possible to reverse integration? Although the FCO declined to answer a Freedom of Information request on whether powers could be taken back, his Europe Minister David Lidington was a bit more savvy, admitting to a private audience that the transfer of powers was irrevocable. So let's be under no illusions that giving EU membership a second chance would make things any better. The people got it right on 23rd June 2016.
Robert Oulds on Tuesday, 23 January 2018 14:30

Thanks for your thoughtful comment. David Lidington's comments abut re-joining the EU will hardly help the UK in the negotiations. Indeed, if we thought EU membership was bad before we lost and even in the run up to the referendum when Cameron claimed to be renegotiating our terms of membership, it will be even worse if we run back. They are seeking to extract a heavy price from a soon to be de facto independent UK. Being under their full control again will be humiliating.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment. David Lidington's comments abut re-joining the EU will hardly help the UK in the negotiations. Indeed, if we thought EU membership was bad before we lost and even in the run up to the referendum when Cameron claimed to be renegotiating our terms of membership, it will be even worse if we run back. They are seeking to extract a heavy price from a soon to be de facto independent UK. Being under their full control again will be humiliating.
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Sunday, 22 July 2018

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