It is, however, important to be cautious. There is a real tendency amongst many Remainers to only listen to what is being said by their own side and to dismiss out of hand any worries about what those who voted leave believe. Thanks to social media too many of us only sign up to follow the views of those we already agree with and that leaves us badly equipped to carry the day when we have to persuade the other half of the nation to pause and rethink before we do something really dangerous to the country's interests.
I hold to the strange idea that it is important that we take care to consider what those that we disagree with are saying and that we should take proper account of any elements of it that make sense. I think that that treating your opponents disagreements with respect is the best way to win arguments and sharpen your thinking. Of course that doesn't mean that I believe we should nod and listen uncritically whilst nationalist nonsense is spouted by the Daily Express, the Mail and the Sun. That needs robustly exposing.
But we need to recognise that we need to change the minds of a lot of people who voted for Brexit. Many of them did so because they were very angry about what has happened to ordinary people since the 2008 banking crash and became very cynical about politicians of the left after the Iraq war. In a week when the dreadful Trump is winning millions of votes in the US it is important to remember that a lot of people who are voting for him would have voted for Bernie Saunders if he was standing. Popularism can cut both ways and those of us who believe in freedom, equality and community don't promote those causes by ceasing to make any effort to make our policies popular or to do the hard work of arguing with those who might be prepared to think further and change some of their opinions. Letting the far right claim that they are the only people that listen to ordinary people whilst we come across as remote to their concerns is not a great idea.
I therefore think we need to be careful about the approach many people are taking to wanting to stay in the EU. I campaigned hard to remain in the EU. Because of the older age profile of many Brexit voters I am pretty sure that by the time we get round to any exit there will be more people alive who voted to remain than who voted to leave. So I want a vote on the final terms of what is actually on offer so we can make a decision on the basis of hard realities rather than the false promises of the far right. But I don't want that to happen as a result of decisions by unelected judges or an unelected House of Lords. I want that to happen because a strong majority of the nation has seen where Brexit policies have led us and don't want that kind of Britain. I don't want to ignore and deride the opinions of 17 million people who happened to vote a different way in the first referendum. I want to change enough of those people's opinions to get to the point where the nation is heavily in favour of something more constructive whether we are in or out. The best way to achieve this is to engage in a serious debate about what the UK should do if it does, as is most likely just at the moment, actually leave. Britain doesn't have to adopt every nasty idea put forward by the far right just because a referendum decided that slightly more people want out of the EU than want in. There is a very different approach to leaving that needs to be voiced and I think it looks something like this:
1. The EU does need heavy reform. The elected EU parliament doesn't have enough power and unelected bureaucrats do. If we are to leave that behind then we must ensure that we replace it with impeccable democracy in the UK. Starting with a fully elected House of Lords and a proportional voting system for local and national government.
2. It is right to give local people more control over their affairs. So let's stop stripping cash and decision making powers out of local government. Transfer more decision making to local government, fund it properly and let those local councils build homes people can afford to rent or buy.
3. There is a problem with school places, hospital waiting lists and care for the elderly. Stopping all immigration will make that problem worse as we need the staff. Instead let's put resources into building schools where they are actually needed instead of wasting them on creating religiously segregated free schools in places where they aren't. We also need to get rid of wasteful expenditure on private provision within the NHS such as Labour's Private Finance Initiative or the Conservatives clumsy and expensive tendering requirements.
4. There are better ways of subsidising farming and land management than current EU rules. We should cap the subsidies that can be received by rich landowners who damage land in order to keep it suitable for grouse shooting and provide more support to farmers to produce food with lower use of pesticides and less pressure on the environment. Governments also need to act to change the power relationship between farmers and the supermarkets.
5. There are better ways of subsidising disadvantaged regions than the current EU schemes. We need long term investment projects not short term project funding that distorts long term local providers of services, wastes time and money on clumsy bidding processes and leaves nothing behind when the funding goes. Let's see the cash for regional powerhouses not nice words and no serious money.
6. We do need to trade more with other nations and to make our industry strong again. Let's do that by rebalancing our economy away from an over reliance on oil and banking. Both have both done huge damage to the rest of the UK economy. We need to invest in modernising our industry and we need to regulate to ensure that our service sector exporters are honest and reliable.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. It is meant to be illustrative of the alternative programme that we need to be putting forward every bit as strongly as the nasty right are pushing theirs. What is important is that more people start putting forward the alternative case and that they do so to all sections of the community. There is a real danger of a myth emerging that there can be only one form of Brexit - the most unpleasant one. There is also a real danger of letting people settle into tribes of Brexiteers and Remainers and of allowing the Brexit camp to claim that a set of very dangerous policies have been endorsed by the nation.
The Remain camp has two important obligations. One is to keep on saying that project reality is going to prove very much harder to deliver than project promise and we want a vote on the actual deal not the politicians' promises. The second obligation on Remainers is to put forward a better set of policies for life in the UK inside or outside of the EU than our opponents can manage. Unless we do this we are at high risk of a great many people believing that we have nothing useful to say to them. And that will leave them wide open to adopting the nasty little fantasies of the extreme right. Not something that any of us should be prepared to allow to happen without a really hard fight.