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The Express has taken time out from beating the drum for Britain’s “Brexit boom” to hit out at “remain moaners” for damaging the economy and weakening Britain’s negotiating position. It is wrong on both counts.

The idea that Remainers are bringing spurious court cases in an attempt to weaken Britain’s negotiating position is without merit. Forcing the government to present a plan to Parliament increases our chances of limiting the damage Brexit could do, while the ability to revoke an Article 50 notification could prevent a destructive hard Brexit

The paper quotes ‘Economist for Brexit’ Ryan Bourne saying the ability to withdraw an article 50 notification could see “an overdue cyclical economic downturn… used as an excuse for a second vote”.

In claiming that a downturn is “overdue”, Bourne is effectively saying one of two things: either he feels we’re currently experiencing a boom which must surely end soon, or he thinks downturns happen according to a regular timetable.

Given that the IMF were predicting a pick-up in UK growth prior to the referendum, the first interpretation seems implausible. The second can be dismissed out of hand. A better interpretation might be that if a policy you advocated has set the country on a path to slowdown or recession, it’s best to get your excuses in early. 

Together with the article’s headline, this neatly summarises the message coming from the Leave camp: When Brexit doesn’t work out, don’t blame the politicians – and definitely not the papers – that promised you the earth. Instead, blame the people who warned you.

Like the defeated German army in 1918, the Brexiters are building a mythology attributing their failure to a ‘stab in the back’ from an enemy within. The Mail is taking a stand against the notorious “enemies of the people” in the judiciary. Six months after an MP was gunned down by a man screaming “death to traitors”, the Express is helpfully publishing lists of MPs who have “defied the will of the people”. The only group getting a pass are economists, and people are sick of experts anyway.

This does not make for comforting reading; the prospect of British politics returning to normal soon seems slim. Unfortunately, the Brexiters have nowhere else to go. Having ridden a tide of popular anger to victory, they cannot turn around and tell voters that ‘the establishment’ was right after all. Equally, 48% of the country cannot allow this narrative to take hold.

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 15.12.2016


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