I am an unrepentant Brexiteer. How did I become so disillusioned with the EU project? There was once a time (nearly three decades ago – how time flies) when I became so fascinated by EU law that I did a course in it, joined a chambers specialising in EU law, and went on to undertake some very interesting cases.
I must be one of very few barristers to have done a case concerning the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty, for example. Another of my cases concerned whether the English law on assigning paternity of children born by artificial fertilisation was compatible with EU law. As a feminist, I was keenly interested in how EU directives on equal treatment could be used to beef up domestic discrimination law.
But after the Irish voted “No” to Nice in 2001 and to Lisbon in 2008, and the EU forced a re-vote, this highlighted the democratic deficit of the EU. Disillusion began to creep in. When the “Vote Leave” campaign was mounted in earnest, let’s say that with me – as with many, many other voters (17.4 million in fact) – it struck a chord.
I predicted that the UK would vote by 53% to leave the EU. On the night after the vote, there was an apocalyptic thunderstorm. One felt tectonic plates shifting. When the next day I learnt that the Leave vote had reached 52%, I was quietly satisfied. The people had spoken.
The Conservative Government’s response was pusillanimous and dreadful. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, ran for the hills. The Conservatives (incredibly) left the country without a functioning Government, whilst they rowed about who their next Leader should be.
And what a terrible mess of it Theresa May has made. As a cynical colleague in Dublin pointed out, it seems she has been trying to sabotage Brexit from the get-go. Now she has caved on Gibraltar. Let’s hope that the DUP dumps her, and that Parliament says “No” to her proposed deal.