Shailesh Vara, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Suella Braverman, Ranil Jayawardena, Rehman Chishti, reads the list of the seven Conservatives who resigned in nearly as many hours from their various ministerial and senior party roles on Thursday in protest at Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement. None of them felt that the deal they were presented with respected the referendum result.
This list of names also goes against the apparently established narrative that the only people kicking up a fuss about implementing the Leave vote are a bunch of old, white men who (given half a chance) would cut us off from the rest of the world. The “little Englanders” hell bent on destroying the country.
I have always found the dismissal of “old, white men”, on the grounds that they are apparently selfish xenophobes, rather amusing. As if – even were the ludicrous characterisation to be true – their vote would carry any less weight than that of young immigrant women like me in a democracy.
So I confess it tickled me somewhat when, once the stream of resignations ended last week, it transpired that every one of those who felt compelled to leave their various coveted government and party roles in protest at Mrs May’s bodged Brexit is either an ethnic minority, a child of an immigrant or a woman. Not one of them can justifiably be described as old, either. A delicious irony.
I have no doubt there are some who would deny women or immigrants and their children agency and would argue that these seven individuals from hugely diverse backgrounds are mere props in a racist “Gammon” project. But that would only betray their own narrow-mindedness in questioning the integrity – without any evidence – of anyone who goes against their idea of how someone who definitely isn’t an old, white man ought to think and vote.
The truth, I think, tells a much more interesting story about a quiet but meaningful evolution that Britain has gone through over the recent years: it has become much harder to divide the country along the lazy, narrow lines of gender and ethnicity.
People are ultimately the sum of their experiences and the values they hold dear. And in a truly inclusive country, where every citizen is encouraged to have a stake in the society and an equal say in policymaking, neither experiences nor values remain the preserve of any particular sex or ethnic group. People are much more likely to be divided along ideological lines.
And so it was with the seven MPs who cited their concern around the impact of Mrs May’s deal on the integrity of the Union and our ability to make our own laws and strike independent trade deals as reasons for their resignation.
It is interesting that not one raised the continuation of free movement until the end of the transition period as a reason for their departure, lending weight to the view that border control is far from the most significant consideration for all Brexiteers.
We may be a country truly divided on the issue of Brexit, but we certainly aren’t on race. Not many countries can claim that.
The MPs resigning over the bodged Brexit are either women or a child of immigrants