IT IS difficult to believe that it is now six years since the historic Brexit referendum. A pandemic and long periods of lockdown have distorted our sense of time.
The joy of those of us that fought the establishment for years, including the noble role played by the Daily Express, has dissipated. Indeed, as many old school reports of mine used to say, the judgement on the delivery of Brexit is straightforward – “Could Do Better”.
I tried hard in 2019 to explain to people that Boris Johnson’s oven-ready deal was anything but. To be fair, he had inherited a dreadful sell-out by Mrs May’s government and the country was suffering from Brexhaustion and in the need of a quick way out.
Now that leave is the status quo, there is no realistic prospect of us becoming a full EU member again.
But, unless the country can clearly see the benefits of leaving, we will find ourselves back in the EU’s regulatory orbit.
The biggest success of the UK’s new status is in the area of foreign policy and the UK’s role in the world.
From the new Aukus deal on nuclear submarines from Australia, to firm leadership on Ukraine, there can be little doubt that freed from the EU shackles we now stand much taller in the world.
If we can keep moving forwards with the Commonwealth and the USA, we will once again become a major global player.
Ever since the vote in 2016, the EU itself has been motivated by revenge. From the sheer arrogance of their chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, to the petty and expensive regulations to take pet dogs across the Channel, the EU wants to see us punished.
In terms of cross-channel trade, we are far away from a genuine free trade agreement.
All deals in life involve upsides and downsides, but it is the lack of grasping the potential opportunities that leaves myself and millions of others wondering whether this government really believes in a liberating vision of Brexit – or just happy to pay lip service to it in order to gain electoral advantage in 2019.
The list of domestic failures is endless.
Why is VAT on fuel not being reduced to zero? It would be a clear benefit of Brexit as EU rules set a 5 percent minimum.
What about the excessive costly and business damaging EU rules on financial services? This is still our biggest industry. I could go on and on.
A report out this week by the Centre For Brexit Policy puts a heavy blame on the civil service and their anti-Brexit obstructionism.
But as Mrs Thatcher, a great fan of the BBC programme Yes, Minister famously said – “Advisers advise and ministers decide”.
We must show the British population the clearly identified benefits of Brexit, or a Labour lead coalition will take us straight back into the single market.
Of even greater concern is that immigration, both legal and illegal, is reaching such massive levels. The referendum was won, above all else, by the desire to take back control of our borders.
For one unnamed judge in the European Court of Human Rights to prevent a flight to Rwanda was a kick in the teeth for 17.4 million Brexit voters.
We must complete Brexit, leave the ECHR, or we will never get back control of our borders on Northern Ireland.
It is unacceptable that a part of the UK has been cut off from the rest of us again. Brexit needs to be completed.
In historic terms, as the sun rose on an independent UK on that morning of June 24, 2016, a huge victory for the people against the establishment had been achieved.
Now we need leadership, direction and courage to optimise that historic achievement 6 years ago. We need to do much better.