Brexit was never a right-wing ideal. My experience of being a brexiteer in the Labour Party, and how populism could be a way to win back the people.

The moment I discovered I had my own opinion of Brexit I was in my A level history class and the teacher put on the Oxford Union debate on the 1975 EEC referendum. From then on, it left a spark that I was on the side of the leave campaign. Growing up in Dartford, which was a 64% leave constituency, I always deemed it democratic to respect the referendum. Still, due to the surrounding of pro-Europe friends, I always just assumed that perhaps being pro Europe was the normality for people my age. But sitting in front of that projector, I saw Barbara Castle in her golden age. I never saw a woman as powerful as her during that debate. It came to me that Just because I was a young socialist, doesn’t automatically make me a Remainer.

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For me, there are many reasons why, if I were able to vote in 2016, I would have voted leave. However, my reasons root down to my distaste in neoliberalism and the undemocratic elite. If the EU were meant to be a place of friendship and unity, it would be stupid to vote to leave. However, undemocratic structural power of the states involved in the EU and the hypocrisy of powerhouse states when it came to EU human rights law proves that it was never a place of friendship. It is modern-day colonialism. The lack of overall discipline of the EU has left structural disadvantages for some but easy escape plans for others. This can be seen with examples like the EU’s failure to stop the brutal deportation of refugees and immigrants by Polish and Hungarian forces in 2017. Or the human rights violation of Romani’s by the French Government. The EU is not a place of free movement, nor is it a place of unity and solidarity. The mask of free trade has covered the abuse of Syrian migrants within its member countries. The Pro-Remain campaign fought for a friendship with Europe, but how is it possible to be in a group that retracts their own human right agreements, and plays with the lives of people escaping the Syrian war.

Another critical failure of the EU is how undemocratic it is. However, former Prime Minister David Cameron was pro-remain, the difficulty that faced the Government when looking was a deal was down to the fact that the EU refused to have the UK create a prototype deals incase the vote swang towards leave. The inability to accept some people didn’t find a home in the EU proves that it is not inclusive. It’s not a situation where it was just The UK, we can look at the french Group National Rally, Fidesz from Hungary, and Italy’s Lega are all pushing to leave the IGO. Persistently they have been ignored, swept under the carpet or have even been belittled for opposing a common market

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Leftwing populism is a successful idea, and it will be a theory that can be played out to help the many. To understand what the country wants, you need to listen to them. The 2016 EU Referendum was one of the highest voter turnouts in history. Leave won, and the majority of political groups should have accepted it. The 2017 Manifesto for the Labour Party did promise to deliver a Brexit, and it gained them seats. This kind of populism would have maintained trust in people.

It was growing in a party when the majority felt like a minority that made it hard. Many people called me a traitor or called me unintelligent just for wanting to respect the referendum. There were many reasons why I wanted to leave and having pro-European trolls bombarded my twitter made me tighten my solidarity with Leave. The Government must serve in the interest of the people and if not all, at least a majority. Wanting to rematch something just because it didn’t go your way proves how out of touch pro-remain parties were. Going out and talking to the general public sewed the seed that it wasn’t just leave or remain, some voted to stay but wanted the Government to respect the referendum, and they were the people that proved that Britain could be tolerant.

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This tolerance was proved on Brexit night where i saw the UK depart the EU at a Brexit celebration. I walked around telling people I was a Labour member and there was more solidarity than I expected. Many people from all ages spoke to me and wished that politicians actually listened to the people. others were also proud of me for standing up in an environment where I would of been knocked down. it was nevever the conservative party members that attacked me, nor was it supporters of the Brexit party, it was in fact the ‘remoaners’ and ‘rejoiners’ that couldn’t accept that the people won after 3.5 years of being told they were wrong.

looking at the recent leadership debate it is clear to see that The Labour party needed to be the party of the people once again. The party needed populism to prove this and by the warm up of Sir Keir Starmer and his refusal to back a Brexit deadline extension, it is clear that it is time to admit the the country wanted to leave for many reasons and it needs to be respected. Brexit was never a right or left wing exclusive debate, it was a debate between the people and the elite.

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