Media appearances

Did we get Brexit done?

This article is based on a speech delivered by Catherine McBride at the “Win or Lose: The Strange Survival of Conservatism” symposium hosted by the Danube Institute and New Culture Forum in London on 10 June with support by the International Reagan Thatcher Society.

The Conservatives were elected with an 80-seat majority in 2019 with one big idea — Get Brexit Done. So did we? Well sort of, but there is much more to do.

Brexit has returned sovereignty to the UK — its most important attribute. But it also means we must choose our politicians carefully. They now have control over our laws, money, taxes, trade, transport, farming, fishing, financial services, science and technology, migration, and legislative scrutiny. 

Yet strangely our politicians seem terrified to use many of their new freedoms.

Were they, like Ken Clarke, simply “looking forward to the day when the Westminster Parliament is just a council chamber in Europe”, and so, more than happy to adopt EU regulations and directives without question?

I can’t blame them, most of them were elected expecting all of the big decisions to be made in Brussels. Politicians outside of Europe don’t have this luxury. They know that if they seek public office, they must also come prepared with philosophies and strategies to run a country and be prepared to make all of the decisions. Including decisions unpopular with activists and lobby groups.

The Brexit referendum was won on three big ideas: take back control of our laws, our money and our borders. So how did this go?