Loser's consent has not been forthcoming in part because Theresa May and her government has made absolutely no attempt to generate it.
The lesson of the 1997 referendum is pretty much the exact opposite of the one that May is touting and reflects terribly on her
— Richard Wyn Jones (@RWynJones) January 14, 2019
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.
Historians may one day say Brexit was won and lost in those three or so months between the referendum and May's October 2016 conference speech.
Everything after that has been an aftershock of the decisions made in that period.
— David Allen Green (@davidallengreen) November 16, 2017
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.