MARCH 26, 2023

By Harry Mottram: Ever since the nation voted by a small majority to leave the European Community in 2016 (known as Brexit) in a referendum there have been dissenting voices calling for a new referendum or to rejoin the EU.

The main reasons being that Brexit has not worked and in reality has cost the country economically and socially. Today (Saturday 25th March, 2023) a group of those in favour of the EU and who would like to take the country back into the single market held an event called Day for Rejoin.

Their spokesperson Sally Long said: “In Bath, the local non-politically-aligned campaign group set the scene for a Georgian-themed photo in front of Royal Crescent, while holding up a large sign with a special message that was revealed on the day.

“Around 50 supporters came dressed in European flag t-shirts and berets – known as bEUrets – along with Georgian wigs and attire.  The event attracted a lot of attention from onlookers in the busy park, with some passers by joining in.  Supporters helped drum up a storm on social media, with photos and messages on the day being shared, causing the hashtag #dayforrejoin to trend on twitter.

One of the organisers, Alice Hovanessian, said: ‘Bath is one of the Great Spa Towns of Europe, we are a historic city which has always had strong links with our European neighbours.  It was no surprise when the majority of Bath citizens voted to remain in the EU referendum.  But I think people not only in Bath but all over the country are starting to realise what a disaster Brexit has been, and the idea of rejoining the Single Market is starting to be discussed more as something we should consider.  Even our Brexit-voting PM, Rishi Sunak, pointed out how lucky Northern Ireland was to be in the “unbelievable position” of being in the UK but also “having access to the single market in Europe”.’

In 2016 the prime minister James Cameron called a referendum to decide on whether the UK should stay or leave the EU. The vote was very roughly 51% to leave and 49% to remain leading to a period of back biting and recriminations over the vote. Jeremy Corbyn who led the Labour Party was criticised for not endorsing the remain side strongly enough as indeed was Cameron. It is fair to say that Nigel Farage of UKIP fame has been the most influential non mainstream politician of the 21st century in the UK in his tireless opposition to the EU.

A glance at the results of the referendum will show some interesting results. Scotland, Northern Ireland, London and several major English cities voted to remain while areas in England and Wales sometimes thought of as ‘left behind’ voted to leave.

For the record in Bath and North East Somerset the voters were in a large majority in favour of remaining in the EU with 60,878 in favour or the EU and 44,352 keen to leave. Opinion polls suggest since then that there may be a majority in this nation to rejoin the EU but since Labour and the Conservatives do not entertain a new referendum that may not happen for a generation. And speaking of generations in all studies of how people voted in 2016 largely younger people voted to stay and older people voted to leave. In Sedgemoor the vote was strongly in favour of Leave.

Comment from Harry Mottram, editor of Bath Voice: If you take soundings from business and international trade the majority will say Brexit has not been a success. The statistics from the Government’s own office for statistics, the ONS suggest Brexit has been a big hit to the economy since 2016 something politicians refer to ignore as no one likes to admit they are wrong or they feel the voters may still prefer the 2016 arguments. A cynic might suggest Brexit has been the best vote to break up the UK. I wrote this for ICSM – a business credit group in Somerset –