Leave voters are not violent. Why do their leaders say they are?

With just 82 days left until the UK is set to leave the EU, we are no closer to knowing what Brexit means than we did in 2016. The Prime Minister is facing almost certain overwhelming defeat next week and, like the rest of us, she will have to acknowledge the inevitability of this situation.

It’s time to admit that leaving the EU on beneficial terms is becoming increasingly unlikely and that this is contrary to the vision that was given to voters in 2016. Leaving on No Deal terms makes a mockery the notion of enacting the ‘will’ of the people who were promised a variety of different visions of a brighter future – and this is reflected in the increasing shift of opinion and calls for a new public vote that we see in large parts of the country.

While a lot of MPs abhor the idea of holding another referendum, it is becoming inevitable.  The question is, why are more MP’s not backing this?

We are in this situation because of the undeliverable nature of what the Brexiters promised. During the 2016 Referendum campaign, there was no consideration of the Good Friday Agreement, there was no mention on their side of the economic damage for British business that rely on frictionless trade, the role freedom of movement in selling services, attracting labour for jobs which there simply aren’t enough British people to undertake and allowing our citizens to live, work and retire in other EU countries.

In spite of all these omissions, it is the hard-core Brextremists who shout the loudest.

Now on the defensive, we are seeing a new, nefarious and dangerous type of Project Fear from the few that advocate a hard Brexit at all costs – let’s call it Project Threat. According to this, if we somehow ‘ignore’ the referendum result, we will be ‘betraying’ the ‘will’ of the people, and will have hell to pay for it.

Let me just say, in no uncertain terms, the people cannot betray the people. Indeed, it is entirely undemocratic, and somewhat dictatorial, to suggest that an updated ‘will’ of the people is betrayal that will be met with force. In fact, what would be undemocratic would be the establishment deciding what Brexit meant. The vote of 2016 gave the government a mandate to leave in the vaguest possible sense, as no two leave voters voted for the same thing.

As we have seen increasingly in the last weeks, there is undoubtedly a small minority of those willing to ‘rise up’ and resort to intimidation of members of the press and politicians to get their way. Thugs like James Goddard and his yellow-vest donning neo-fascists are impeccable examples of the real-life manifestation of this project threat.

A group of about 20 yellow vest protesters in London. This is the same small group that has been harassing MPs and journalist outside parliament.

The issue is, and the grave error in judgement that they have made is that there is no indication that their behaviour is condoned, let alone supported by the vast silent majority in the country. On the contrary, we have seen other groups of Leave voters peacefully protesting in a different areas deliberately to distance themselves from these thugs.

Whilst we must offer MPs and journalists resolute protection, we should be pragmatic about the threat this causes and ask a very simple question: Are these the kind of people they are referring to when they talk of an uprising? Would ordinary Leave voters behave in this abhorrent way? Is this how they see Leave voters?

This brings me specifically to my main point to politicians on behalf of the British people; Have faith in us. Do not listen to the doomsayers. British Leave voters, from all parts of the country, of all backgrounds and of all political affiliations are fundamentally decent people. They are law abiding and pragmatic in the most British sense of the meaning.

They have real concerns with where Brexit is headed, but to threaten violence in their name is to disgrace who they are and what they hold dear. To attempt to threaten MPs into an ideologically confined view of the future of this country, in the name of ordinary Leave voters and the public more broadly, is to show utter contempt for those that they seek to represent.

So in true British spirit, lets debate and argue all day and night, but do not, in any way, give in to this new Project Threat.

Jordan Byrne is a 3rd year undergraduate studying political economy at King’s College London and a member of the Conservative Party. He has recently been appointed as a Media Relations Officer at Conservatives for a People’s Vote.