We have the right to Bremoan

Despite being denounced as “unpatriotic Bremoaners” in a recent Daily Mail editorial, those of us who voted to remain should
not be afraid to hold the government to account over it’s half baked plans for Brexit. Remain voters like myself have to accept the referendum result, no one’s disputing that. We lost the vote and Britain voted for Brexit, so Brexit is what it shall get.

But what is Brexit? Theresa May helpfully pointed out that “Brexit means Brexit”, but we are still none the wiser as to what
sort of deal with the EU the Prime Minister is hoping to achieve. It seems that the cabinet cannot agree on what our future relationship with Europe shall be, with different factions pushing for ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexits. All this uncertainty has unsurprisingly
spooked the financial markets and the pound has plummeted, the recent row between Tesco and Unilever over the price of marmite may have been resolved but the cost of imported goods is bound to rise sooner or later.

So with the our post Brexit future not looking as rosy as it had hoped, it’s unsurprising that the Daily Mail decided to
lash out. In the recent editorial, almost certainly written or at least dictated by the paper’s editor Paul Dacre, MPs who dare to scrutinise the government over it’s Brexit strategy are lambasted as “whingeing, contemptuous and unpatriotic”. It looks like
standard Daily Mail fare, plenty of BBC bashing, denouncing the ‘liberal metropolitan elite’ (whatever that means) and constant references to ‘Project Fear’ (which pangs of hypocrisy for a paper that runs constant scare stories about the evils of mass migration).

The Mail may have accused the remain campaign of using fear tactics but in truth both sides attempted to scare the electorate
into voting their way, only the leave campaign’s scare stories were more effective. A horde of 80 million Turks swarming across Britain proved even more terrifying than a dreaded drop in house prices.

But there is something more sinister at work than a bit of good old fashioned Daily Mail bigotry. The right wing tabloids,
their once fringe views on Europe having reached the mainstream, have become emboldened. As the traditional home of Euroscepticism, the Mail has seen its long ideological crusade to get Britain out of Europe a success. But it’s crusade is far from over. It
has a far wider agenda, it longs to drag society back to a time before gay marriage and worker’s rights (or red tape as it calls them). The referendum was not a mandate to exterminate liberal values, now more than ever we shouldn’t be afraid to defend our
belief in a tolerant and open society.

The British people have spoken but their vote to leave the EU means different things to different people, the government’s
interpretation of the vote should be scrutinised in parliament. In the current political climate bigotry and jingoism seem to be in the ascendency, tolerance and pragmatism (like marmite) seem to be in limited supply. Yet we should all be able to speak up
for the Britain we want to see in the future without being branded as unpatriotic. I don’t share Paul Dacre’s or Theresa May’s vision for a post-brexit Britain and neither do large swathes of the population. If anyone criticising the government is now branded
as unpatriotic, what happened to taking back control?

Ian White
(Image courtesy of The Evening Standard)

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