After all the silver bullets have been swept away…

I BELIEVE there may be something wrong with my radio. For some reason I keep hearing Nigel Farage. I really should complain to the makers or perhaps the BBC, as that man is supposed to have stepped down from running Ukip.

He was in there this morning, spouting rubbish. I gave the radio a shake but he still burbled away on the Today programme about whether or not Britain should adopt an Australian points-based immigration system.

Farage had been invited on, presumably by a producer with a limited contacts book, to respond to the statement by the prime minister that there was “no single silver bullet” on reducing immigration.

Now I am far from being a fan of Mrs May You Never, but she does have a point here. Sadly, those silver bullets were flying all over the place in the lead-up to the EU referendum.

The Gunfight at the Not O.K. Corrall saw so many such bullets being fired, it’s a wonder the sky didn’t turn silver.

All sorts of promises were made, many of them ludicrous; and assorted colourful threats were delivered by both sides, many of them sculpted out of thin air.

Last week, the Electoral Reform Society reported on “glaring democratic deficiencies” in the run-up to the vote. Their polling showed that “voters viewed both sides as increasingly negative as the campaign wore on”. And the “top-down, personality-based nature of the debate failed to address major policies and subjects, leaving the public in the dark”.

How true. And worth remembering when you discover Nigel Farage in your radio. And this morning he said something that struck a discordant note in my ears (not that such an aural complaint is unusual when Nigel is spouting forth).

What he said was that people in their millions had voted for an Australian points-style immigration system. Sadly, the presenter did not pick him up on this. People did not vote for that: they were given an either/or choice on remaining in Europe. All sorts of issues attached themselves to the vote, ideological limpets and distractions. But in the end it was down to yes/no, in/out. Nothing more to it than that.

Some of those who voted Leave might well believe in a points-based system: but that wasn’t part of the deal.

Neither, sadly, were all sorts of mendacious promises made by the Leave lot, but we know that now.

There is an argument that those of us who lost the vote should pipe down and accept it. Well, that is nonsense. We should accept the vote because it happened; but we shouldn’t pipe down because the vote was only the beginning in a very long and complicated process. Rather, we should make as much noise as possible.

I keep hearing that millions of people wanted to leave. This is true but only part of the story, as millions also didn’t want to leave. And both sides have to play a part in what happens next. Unless, as I suggested the other day, you want to fall in with the front page of the Daily Express and its daily Brexit mantra of: “Are we there yet?”

Perhaps we never will be ‘there’, as while flying to the G20 summit in China Mrs May declined to commit to various promises made by Vote Leave of an extra £100m a week to the NHS, ending contributions to the EU budget or scrapping VAT on fuel bills.

There remains a mountain of work to do. Sweeping up all those silver bullets was just the start of it.

Leave a Reply