This speech was given by Gina Miller of the Best for Britain campaign at The Convention on 12 May 2017:
As supposedly the Chief Wrexiteer, I am probably apt that I am opening The Convention. But I want to leave the name calling behind and have a serious conversation with you.
In my view the vote to Leave the EU was a mistake but that was the democratic outcome of the Referendum. The public decided to leave and we must respect that. However, it is in their interest and all our interest that this is done in a way to minimise the damage to our country, and in particular, to the prospects of our young people. There also needs to be a reclaiming of common sense.
We don’t know how Europe might change in the next 2 years and we certainly don’t know the final deal yet so to decide now exactly what we will do is insane.
If in the light of evidence and events in a future no one can predict, the British public decides it does not want the proposed deal, presumably because it’s neither best for their families or their country’s future, why should their wishes be ignored?
How we voted in June 2016, almost a year ago, is in a sense irrelevant as that is the past. Both remainer and leaver politicians need to move on to what will be best for Britain rather than their political career. They must put principles before party politics, rather than marching towards a hard Brexit like hapless lemmings over the cliff.
My question is – How did we get into this mess? I believe the answer is due to a series of political miscalculations. How can we get out of it? By using our voices and our vote to hold politicians to account throughout the process and at the end.
People chose to pillorise expert advice and information from all walks of life. Brexit became an evidence free zone. If Brexit was an NHS drug, it would have to pass an evidence based test showing that the benefits massively outweighed the possible harm. We have nothing like that. Remember the article 50 white paper? It was like no other I have seen. There was no cost benefits Test or comparison of alternatives or analysis. It was Mrs Mays way or no way.
If you are thinking about moving and decide you like the look of a house, you may put in an offer but you wait until you’ve had the surveyor’s report, a legal search before deciding whether to complete or not. Only a fool would do otherwise.
This decision is about our entire country and the futures of all our lives, not just a house. But the only choice we are being offered is to buy irrespective of the attractiveness of our proposed new place or pull the deal entirely at the last minute and end up homeless.
Just because Mrs May has called a snap election does not mean we have to all snap into line and jettison common sense.
Mrs May said Britain was uniting behind Brexit and Westminster is divided yet in many ways the opposite is true. I know this because of the messages I receive. Just reading last night the responses below the videos the Convention team posted and the responses on social media it is evident that many people in the country are angry and very unhappy – on both sides.
The country is divided: the Referendum opened a wound which cannot heal until Mrs May engages in a full and informed debate with the country to find common ground
By being inflexible and harsh, closed-minded, deaf to other’s opinions and concerns about Brexit, Mrs May is preventing the country from healing and recovering.
In terms of Labour, voters may be thinking of sitting this Election out because they do not have faith in Jeremy Corbyn. But having a vote is a great privilege so we must use it in a smart, tactical way.
Many people who voted Remain feel Leave won by lies and swindling.
I know that many of the people who voted Leave feel they were lied to.
Many people were dismayed at the consequences as the challenges of Brexit seep into the fore. In my view the only real solution that can bring the country back together, to go forward together, is if the differences are resolved or at least reduced through properly informed debate throughout the negotiation process and a free vote on the end terms of Brexit .
As a country we value fairness, reasonableness and compromise for the greater good. Mrs May is out of step with that. Robotically repeating mantras of Brexit means Brexit and the words Strong and Stable being trotted out to any question ring hollow.
Despite what many think or what we are being told – Extreme Brexit is not a done deal. It is unfinished business.
The Referendum was not Brexit.
There is no mandate or blank cheque for an Extreme or hard Brexit. People should be able to make an informed choice. They deserve to see options and to see them properly scrutinised in Parliament. There must be a meaningful vote and elected representatives (MPs) must be able to vote on amendments to the deal.
If Mrs May uses a landslide majority to deliver an extreme Brexit she will be remembered for putting political expediency above true democracy.
Mrs May seems to want there to be no opposition on Brexit, and the Official Opposition in Parliament appear to be obliging. It is up to us as ordinary citizens to do so. However small you may feel, together our voice is big and can be the opposition to Extreme Brexit now.
That is why we have launched Best For Britian.org and even the former Prime Minister appears to be our supporter and agrees that there should be opposition to extreme Brexit. Our goal must be damage limitation through using our voice in debates such as The Convention is hosting and voting for choice on the 8th June.
Some people voted Leave because they wanted to go back to the past but the future will not bring us back to the past because the world has changed. Extreme Brexit is likely to leave us more vulnerable, more isolated, poorer, and with less opportunities for our children.
There is a fundamental unfairness here which will not lie down and be forgotten unless there is a new political settlement with the country over Brexit. Many feel betrayed and angry – but I implore you not to turn away from democracy and responsibility on June 8th, as that could have even more profound consequences for our country.