One of Lancashire’s most vocal Brexit campaigners has said the decision to leave the EU should be “reversed immediately” because he has “no confidence whatsoever” in Theresa May’s leadership.
Wayne Wild is Group Director and a large shareholder at WEC Engineering, one of the largest independent employers in the county.
He campaigned vociferously for an EU exit and even wrote an economic paper in support of his argument which was widely circulated in Westminster.
But now, while he stands by his initial reasoning, Wayne believes the project is doomed because of poor leadership at government level which will mean that a good Brexit deal is impossible to secure.
In an outspoken Tweet this week he said: “As a Brexit promoter and voter I would reverse the decision immediately. The current leaders can’t even write a manifesto or budget.”
Wayne said he started researching the workings of the EU after a bid for European funds to invest in WEC was rejected twice – after a 24 month process.
He said: “We put so much time and resource into that bid and I felt we’d been given the runaround.
“At that point I decided to learn more about the EU and how it worked. I concluded that the UK was better off out of it.”
He lobbied Jake Berry, the then Rossendale and Darwen MP, on the matter and drafted a paper in support of the economic benefits of leaving the EU.
Wayne added: “Jake was very much pro-Remain, but as my MP he helped me distribute the paper to MPs at Westminster. I received good responses to it.
“I stand by my reasoning of the time and believe my conclusion was right then – but not now.”
At the heart of Wayne’s about-turn is what he sees as poor leadership.
“It’s been error after error and misleading statements have compounded the issue,” he added.
“David Cameron’s EU renegotiation tour was a disaster and completely missed the nation’s mood on immigration.
“Worse than that, he had absolutely no Plan B when he didn’t get what he wanted from European leaders. He then ran a complacent campaign which was based on fear and, despite saying he would stay whatever the result, he immediately resigned.
“Then the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove got involved on the opposite side. I didn’t believe the battle bus claim that £350m a week would be diverted to the NHS, but a lot of people did.
“More to the point, when strong leadership was required they got embroiled in a personal backstabbing ploy that ended up with them and us losing out.
Johnson, believes Wayne, was almost single-handedly responsible for the leave campaign’s success.
Wayne said: “But the day after the election, he looked like a scared rabbit. He didn’t expect the result we got and I don’t think he wanted it.
“And then we had the Tory leadership campaign and we ended up with Theresa May – and she gives me no confidence whatsoever.”
Wayne cites the in-fighting and a string of policy u-turns, in particular the reversal on increasing taxation for the self-employed, as examples of poor leadership by those charged with Brexit negotiations.
He added that the Prime Minister’s decision to call a General Election after repeatedly saying she wouldn’t means we now face a “completely distracting general election which, whether she remains in power with a smaller or larger majority, is largely irrelevant”.
Wayne is aware that his change of heart may prompt criticism but, echoing the quote attributed to economist JM Keynes, he said: “A strong leader can admit when they are wrong and change their mind.
“But my voice isn’t enough. What is needed is for some of the very well-known exit campaigners to admit that this is not going to end well for us and find a way of pulling back.”
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