Five years ago with a wobbly hand I put an X in the ‘Leave’ box, along with millions of others. I did not really believe the stories I told myself of the sunny prospects when we were out, but I knew there was only this opportunity. Now five years on, it has been achieved, and much more.
I could not have imagined it would take the Government so long actually to extricate us from the European Union: David Cameron (remember him?) said he would send the letter at once, and start the two years rolling, but instead he flunked it and walked out, leaving the task to a timid replacement with a backsliding team. Then out she went and the landscape was transformed – all this has been recited endless times and is raw in the memory.
Finally on 31 January 2020 we were out, after almost 4 years: there could not possibly be time by the fifth anniversary to have transformed the trade of the world, but here we are, with a ‘Canada+’ deal with the European Union, and another with Canada, world markets signing up, inward investment (that was meant to be fleeing, remember) pouring in as never before. Boris said during the campaign that we had been yoked to the only declining continent in the world, and now we are becoming linked to the growing ones. It is too short a time for it to have happened, but it has happened.
I was always told when young and wide-eyed that you can achieve whatever you want by putting your mind to it. I never really believed that – but these years have been proof that Governments fail to achieve because they dither and do not believe in what they are doing, but can succeed beyond all expectation if they put a collective mind to it. The night of the long knives after Theresa May departed was cruel, utterly necessary and successful.
It is unfashionable to say what I must, but God bless Dominic Cummings for his role in the transformation. They made a good team, Boris and Dominic, while it lasted.
I recall after the vote, calling out some nonsense from LibDems, when they claimed that the economy would crash 10% after Brexit. The figures were bizarre, Diane-level calculations based on all trade across the Channel ceasing and everyone who so much as sniffs a baguette at work being sacked. Well, they were right, in a way, not because of Brexit, which actually lifted the economy, but because of the lockdown. We did not foresee that. (Even there we are recovering because of Brexit freedoms, while Europe languishes.)
It was not foreseen, where we would be. It is better than I hoped. Now we just have to win the Sausage War.
- 4 years ago we voted (2020)
- Quiet, smug anniversary (31 January 2021)
- Got Brexit Done (31 January 2020)
- Where the Remainers were right
- Ireland abused, abandoned
- How to fix the Ulster Protocol
- Brexit moments in history:
- All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman
- Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union by Harold D. Clarke, Matthew Goodwin and Paul Whiteley
- Brexit: How the Nobodies Beat the Somebodies by Sebastian J. Handley
- Brexit and Ireland: The Dangers, the Opportunities, and the Inside Story of the Irish Response by Tom Connelly
- Beyond Brexit by Vernon Bogdanor
- From Partition to Brexit: The Irish Government and Northern Ireland by Donnacha O Beachain
- Brexit: Its Necessity and Challenge by Tony Kosuge
- Rising Tides: Facing the Challenges of a New Era by Liam Fox
- By Boris Johnson:
- For the Record by David Cameron