Three voices, one pow­er­ful mes­sage...

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Comment -

THE Brexit ref­er­en­dum was not a magic spell which in­stantly wafted the United King­dom into a new, trans­formed sta­tus. It did not re­lieve MPs, nor any­one else in a po­si­tion of author­ity, of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the myr­iad de­tails of de­par­ture.

And so it was al­ways a lit­tle fool­ish to imag­ine that the vote to leave the EU was the end of the mat­ter. In truth, it was just the be­gin­ning. Yet we still have no clear idea of what sort of de­par­ture we will even­tu­ally make.

As Brex­i­teers squab­ble and floun­der, some of them seem to be ex­pect­ing – even hop­ing for – a de­par­ture with­out a deal, in which we sim­ply end our EU mem­ber­ship and work out what hap­pens af­ter­wards.

Un­der these cir­cum­stances, thought­ful fig­ures on both sides of the Brexit di­vide need to urge cau­tion.

Plenty of those who voted to leave, prob­a­bly the ma­jor­ity, never ob­jected to the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of the EU, just to its po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence.

So a deal which pre­serves as many of those ben­e­fits as pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially those pro­vided by the Sin­gle Mar­ket and the Cus­toms Union, is not in any way a be­trayal of the Brexit ma­jor­ity.

This is why the dec­la­ra­tion by three lead­ing fig­ures from each ma­jor po­lit­i­cal party, which The Mail on Sun­day pub­lishes to­day, is so sig­nif­i­cant. The trio – for­mer Tory Cab­i­net Min­is­ter Nicky Mor­gan, for­mer Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Nick Clegg, and for­mer Labour For­eign Sec­re­tary David Miliband – have for­mi­da­ble ex­pe­ri­ence of pol­i­tics.

They con­fess to hav­ing many dis­agree­ments. But all agree that as many as pos­si­ble of our ben­e­fi­cial eco­nomic ties to the EU should be re­tained.

They re­ject the blithe claims of ex­treme Leavers that a hard Brexit will some­how au­to­mat­i­cally lead to an ex­cit­ing fu­ture of free trade. And they voice the silent doubts of many in busi­ness and in­dus­try about the un­cer­tainty which lies ahead.

Their warn­ings are both rea­son­able and pow­er­ful. There is noth­ing anti-demo­cratic about this. No­body is at­tempt­ing to defy the will of the peo­ple or over­turn a demo­cratic vote.

All that these ex­pe­ri­enced and cau­tious voices are say­ing is that our exit from the EU should not hurt the British peo­ple. Both the 52 per cent who voted to leave and the 48 per cent who voted to stay can surely agree on that.

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