Bill Carmichael: Beware the backlash if Brexit is thwarted

IF people are persuaded to put their faith in the democratic process, and then are betrayed and told that their views don't actually matter, don't be surprised if there is a terrible backlash '“ and the chances are it won't be pretty.

If Brexit is not delivered, Bill Carmichael fears it could lead to a rise in extremism. Do you agree?

There are already clear signs that this is happening. Not only has Ukip, a party we all thought was more or less dead and buried, shown signs of life over the last few weeks, but also there are other indications of frustrated disillusion with the mainstream parties.

According to a YouGov poll published in The Sunday Times last weekend, 38 per cent of Britons would vote for a new right-wing party that is committed to Brexit, while 24 per cent would support an explicitly far-right anti-immigrant, anti-Islam party.

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There is a clear danger here – and the diehard Remainers are playing with fire.

Despite the unhinged left in this country hysterically denouncing anyone who mildly disagrees with them as “Nazis” and “worse than Hitler”, actual fascism is vanishingly rare in the UK.

This is in sharp contrast to much of mainland Europe where real Nazis – and their Red Fascist left-wing counterparts – flourish, and they are undoubtedly a nasty bunch.

We owe our stability and moderation in the UK to a two-party system where policy differences are relatively minor and governments – whether Conservative or Labour – generally keep faith with the electorate and try to deliver what they promised.

That could change rapidly if the Establishment elite continues to thwart Brexit and denigrate the people who voted for it. Their attitude is summed up by the comment this week by arch Remainer and Labour MP David Lammy who dismissively described the Brexit vote as that “will of the people b****cks”.

Let us be clear here – over two years ago David Cameron’s Government made a solemn and binding promise to the British people. Parliament willingly – and by a huge majority – agreed to hand over the decision on our future in the EU directly to the people.

In a leaflet delivered at huge cost to every household in the country, the then-Government made its case for staying in the EU and described the EU referendum as “a once-in-a-lifetime decision”.

It went on to make the following pledge: “This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.”

People believed that promise and voted accordingly in the largest exercise in democracy this country has ever witnessed. Note that there was no mention of a “soft Brexit” or of staying in the customs union or single market, or of any regulatory alignment.

Neither was there mention of a second referendum – in fact the Government’s pledge that this was a “once-in-a-lifetime decision” explicitly ruled one out.

We were told it was a one-off decisive vote and if we voted to leave we would leave – as simple as that.

If this Government now goes on to renege on this promise, it will be the biggest political betrayal in British modern history. It would be a disaster for our country and open up terrible divisions that would see the rise of extremism of both left and right.

The only way to preserve our democracy and defeat fascism is to deliver the Brexit that people voted for.

MEANWHILE, remarkable news from Washington where the EU – the biggest protectionist cartel on the planet – has apparently agreed to US demands to move towards a free-trade deal with 
zero tariffs.

This is the same EU that has spent the last two years obstinately insisting the UK’s plans for a free-trade deal were ridiculous and unworkable, while gobbling up every concession our weak Government has made – including a £39bn divorce payment.

But within hours of arriving in the US, the EU side apparently capitulated to Donald Trump’s tough negotiating stance.

Perhaps the President’s threat to impose a 25 per cent tariff on German car imports helped to concentrate minds a little? What Trump understands is that while a free-trade deal is mutually beneficial, a trade war will hit the EU far harder than the US because America buys more from Europe than it sells. Exactly the same goes for the UK.

Perhaps if we could borrow Donald Trump for our own EU negotiations, a free-trade deal would be done and dusted within a couple of hours.