Loser’s Consent

This short but compelling tweet thread by Richard Wyn Jones puts a name to the thing about Theresa May’s approach to Brexit that has made me (and I suspect, many other people) so angry. It is that, despite the small majority for leaving the European Union, there was no attempt to seek ‘loser’s consent‘ to the referendum result.

This is despite people like me beginning the Brexit process with the very clear intention of giving that consent.

This lack of magnanimity was the first of Mrs May’s political missteps. Had she sought loser’s consent, by establishing a cross-party commission or by embarking on some kind of ‘listening tour’ she could have avoided all the chaos and rancour offered up by the path that she actually chose.

David Allen Green’s analysis of how the path was chose and where it led us, is unassailable. Everything that Parliament is now grappling with is a consequence of decisions made before the October 2016 Conservative party conference, and followed inexorably from the announcements made by the Prime Minister then.

But why did she chose to set her face against seeking any kind of loser’s consent and instead set out so many red lines? My theory is that the Brexiters around her were so convinced by their own propaganda that they were worried that the EU and the fifth columnist Remainers would conspire to keep us in the Union, and they judged that a harder Brexit was therefore necessary.

Ironically, it was precisely this manoeuvre that inspired many Remainers’ resolve that we would stay in the EU! So many of us would have settled for a Norway type arrangement. A different speech in October 2016, one that sought loser’s consent, could have pacified the distraught Remain crowd and kept us signed-up to some form of Brexit, without the parliamentary war.

As it is, the Prime Minister’s impossible red lines meant that she not only failed to secure loser’s consent, but ultimately lost winner’s consent for her deal too! The ERG and the pro-Brexit bloggers I read want nothing to do with Mrs May’s mutant withdrawal agreement.

3 Replies to “Loser’s Consent”

  1. Well said Rob
    I read Richard Wyn Jones yesterday, like you, with a sense of angry frustration at how different this Brexit process could have been.

    In the last two weeks I’ve discovered other examples of good common sense. The kind of pragmatic consensus that can be achieved when people of different views sit down with shared interest in achieving the best outcome for the greater good.

    The Citizens Assembly on Brexit (composed of Leave and Remain panellists randomly chosen) produced a 3 point recommendation that deserved discussion – I’ve never heard it mentioned by politicians.

    And, yesterday, via Fintan O’Toole I discovered the beautiful, eloquent Border People’s Manifesto – the result of pro and anti Brexit citizens along the Irish border sitting and working together. A recognition of the power of ‘Maybe’, tolerance and ambiguous borders.

    Instead May is shackled to the DUP

  2. It is about time you join politics and we may see a future prime minister in you.
    I do not have a website but would very much like to create one with your help.

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