I voted to leave the European Union. To some, that will immediately identify me as nasty, narrow-minded, racist, knuckle-dragging thicko, gullible, easily-led by simple-answers-to-hard-questions, nostalgia freak and little Englander.
I am none of those things. But hey – if lazy stereotyping is your bag, then go enjoy yourself.
Two of my nearest and dearest friends voted Remain. And we are all still near and dear friends. A couple of main reasons for this:
- It would be dumb to fall out with your besties over a cross in a box on a piece of paper
- I understand and accept they voted with consideration and sincerity of what they thought was the best thing for the future of our country. And they know and accept that I did the same.
They don’t question my liberality and I don’t question their patriotism. We had some passionate discussions at the time of the referendum. We disagreed and to a point still do, but that’s the point of exercising your democratic right and civic duty. Everyone gets an equal vote. And nobody is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – it is the majority that carries the day.
There were several whoppers told on both sides. I don’t think anyone could claim with a straight face that it was an entirely fact-based national conversation. But that’s all in the past. The referendum was called, held and the result announced. 52/48 in favour of leaving.
The debacle that has followed over the last almost-three years is a testament to our political class. I recall a Newsthump spoof headline that Theresa May was aiming for a Brexit deal that pleased absolutely nobody. You have to feel for satirists as real life reaches beyond their wildest parody.
The ongoing conflict between both sides (and indeed splinters within each side) means the social fractures are as bitter as ever. I don’t know if this genuinely goes through the lanes, valleys and streets of the nation. Maybe it’s the media and shouty voices that continue to regurgitate the arguments and divisions, whilst great swathes of the country have moved on and are frankly bored. One of the clever types within May’s circle planted the line that ‘the British people just want us to get on with it’ in that perennial politician’s plump for the popular parlance.
As a Leave voter, the blizzard of statistics showing how remaining within the EU would have financial benefits for the foreseeable future are noted. These do not change my mind. Not many of my fellow Leave voters. Not because we are dumb. Nor that we have a deathwish for the British economy. It’s because for us, this was never simply a financial/trade decision.
This was also an emotional decision. Alan Johnson, former Labour minister and prominent Remain campaigner said, “We never had an answer for ‘Take Back Control’ – it was a powerful message”. Well put. And we can be played the financial/trade case forever – like the friends warning expectant parents about the mountainous cost of a child – and it will bounce off.
Note – ‘also’ an emotional one. Not exclusively. We know that there will be disruption. There will be stock market and currency turbulence. Why? Not because of Brexit. Because of uncertainty. Markets and currencies will always swoop and soar on the basis of uncertainty, followed by the new norm. The real world of personal, social, community and business activities will adapt, adjust, update and carry on after we leave the EU.
If the slow, firstly quiet now very loud campaign to reverse Brexit – with the complicity of a Prime Minister of such incompetence that the EU could not have asked for a better stooge – wins the day, what then?
If this happens – if the United Kingdom does not leave the EU – then what is the point in ever voting again? If there is only one acceptable result – if that pre-determined result is achieved by duplicity, mendacity and basically the vested interests riding rough-shot over the verdict of the populace – how can we have faith in our supposedly democratic process again?
It does appear that the United Kingdom has been brought to heel. Not by its masters in Brussels (for masters they are). It’s by a Vichy parliament that has been only too willing to do its bidding. And I fear that once the people realise they have been robbed of their ability to express themselves via the ballot box, other options will gain credence. I abhor violence and will only ever advocate peaceful protest. But it’s not beyond anyone’s imagination that civil unrest could follow.
I know how fiendishly difficult all this is. The Leave voices who said it would be “the easiest deal in history” were pretty wide of the mark. The concerns about the peace process on the island of Ireland are genuine and deeply held. And whilst I do believe that prosperity will come our way once outside the EU, I do not imagine this will be quick or without risk.
My wish for 2019 is that we leave the EU. As per the referendum result. And not forgetting this will be in line with the manifesto pledges of both Conservative and Labour parties in the general election of 2017.
I also wish to hear less from the sanctimonious ones that present their opinions as facts, the hysterical accusers (“Oh, so you’re happy for millions of people to lose their jobs…etc”) and the pity-smile merchants who simply don’t understand why everyone doesn’t agree with them.
I’d also like to think that people who comment will actually read this blog, before launching into keyboard warrior mode – but that might be a wish too far…
Bring on the Spring!