Yesterday the government published a Bill to withdraw from the EU. It’s an incredible moment. Not just because Eurosceptics have been waiting for it for decades. But because it shows how the people have forced politicians to change.
Throughout most of my life, every piece of legislation on the EU has been about more integration. The European Communities Act. Maastricht. Lisbon.
As a Eurosceptic MP, I always used to vote with the minority in the ‘No’ lobby.
But that has all changed. Since the Referendum Act, Eurosceptics have been voting ‘Aye’ on bills about the EU – and we are in the majority. In December, most MPs voted to trigger Article 50 by March. Both the Conservatives and Labour will be whipped to back the Article 50 Bill.
The remarkable thing is MPs haven’t changed their views. Parliament is still made up of a majority of Europhiles. But the people have left politicians with no choice.
The economist Milton Friedman made this point best when he said:
“I do not believe the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.”
I keep that quotation on the wall of my office.
Some worry about the fact that Theresa May, along with majority of her Cabinet and MPs, campaigned to Remain. They see a non-Eurosceptic running a Brexit government as a bad thing.
But I think the approach we should take is the precise opposite. We have made it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. This is what success looks like.
The British people have made the entire establishment to reverse course even without changing the personnel. That’s some revolution. Just think of how much more we could change.