Brexit: where are we now – and what next? Claire Fox and Lord Adonis.

On Tuesday evening Sevenoaks School hosted Lord Andrew Adonis and Claire Fox talking on “Brexit – Where Are We Now – and What Next?”.

At least that was the strapline on the publicity – but everything was changing as we gathered and, as we all know, nobody really has any idea of “what next”.

Some 360 people attended and the chairman, Adam Boulton, started with a show of hands as to who had voted Remain and who had voted Leave – it was, unsurprisingly, an overwhelmingly Remain audience.

Lord Adonis, a Labour peer and passionate campaigner for a People’s Vote, was speaking on behalf of Remain voters.

Andrew Adonis gave a clear summary of why Brexit would be bad for the UK – bad for prosperity, bad for power and bad for the people. We have heard this consistent message before and no doubt we will hear it for many years to come whichever way it goes.

Claire Fox, director of the Academy of Ideas and advocate for free speech, was speaking on behalf of Leave voters.

Claire Fox concentrated on why Leavers voted the way that they did, how their voices were not listened to by politicians and big business; how they were deeply insulted by Remainers saying that they had believed lies that were told and were stupid; and that they didn’t understand.

Voters had been told that the vote would be binding and she believed that to deny Leave voters what they had been promised would be bad for democracy and bad for the country – and indeed just wrong.

These are powerful arguments and she made a number of extremely good points relevant to this, which were admirably backed up by the only Leaver in the audience who was called to speak.

However, Claire Fox did not at any point tell us why or how Brexit would be good – for the country, or the people, or indeed for anyone at all. The focus was on not letting down Leave voters by failing to deliver what they had been promised by politicians and others.

This in itself is an admirable aim but there were no arguments that a No Deal or a Bad Deal Brexit will do anything to solve any of our very real problems.

Or if there are such arguments we did not hear them tonight.

So, the “What is next?” may be another vote – that has certainly come closer in the last couple of days. And if it is “Put to the People”, that campaign will need to focus not only on the In or Out question but also on the ways in which our country’s problems can be overcome.

But a Bad Deal Brexit or a No Deal Brexit are still possible and neither will resolve any of the problems that this country has and will quite likely add to those problems.

But then the whole project wasn’t designed to resolve the country’s problems, was it? It was an attempt to resolve problems within the Conservative Party. And it isn’t even going to do that.