Anyone campaigning for People’s Vote or the Pro-EU parties in the recent elections is almost certain to have been called unpatriotic, lacking faith in Britain or in more extreme cases, a traitor.
Of course I disagree. I believe that attempting to stop Brexit or at least giving people a chance to decide if they still want it now the consequences are more apparent is the patriotic thing to do.
In the Brexit debate who are the patriots?
Defending the country against harm has to be more patriotic than promoting an act which will result in us going backwards in comparison to the rest of the world and which, in the case of no-deal Brexit, effectively put us in to a state of self imposed siege.
Almost all Brexiters (I mean the political leaders not the voters) have more or less admitted that Brexit will come at a heavy cost, to the point where Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested it could take 50 years to see the benefits. In the meantime businesses are leaving, jobs are being lost, the cost of living has already risen due to the steep fall of the pound and now the NHS is under threat from post-Brexit trade deals.
And that is before the consequences of tearing the UK out of the regulatory, licensing and accreditation frameworks – as would be the case with no deal – which would leave us without the legal rights to carry many of the transactions which underpin our daily expectations.
If even the advocates of Brexit have given up any pretence that Brexit will bring benefits and are admitting that the disruptive impact may last decades then surely trying to prevent such damage is the patriotic thing to do. Wilfully taking steps to damage ones country has to be the treasonous, unpatriotic act.
Why are we leaving the EU?
There is now no reason to continue with Brexit other than the result of the referendum which itself was compromised by foreign interference and illegal overspending by the Leave campaigns.
I cannot understand how anyone professing to be proudly British feels threatened by the EU. The EU doesn’t take away anyone’s identity, it offers extra layers of identity and opportunity to those who want to adopt them, and many youngsters do.
And if Britain harbours hopes of being a global player dealing with the US, China and the newly emerging multi-national blocs it makes no sense that it believes it is dictated to by the EU and must therefore leave. The UK is one of the most influential and powerful nations in the EU. The “them and us” rhetoric makes no sense in relation to the EU organisation or institutions.
Brexit is a 20th century answer to 21st century problems. It won’t work.
In today’s world borders mean a lot less than they did in the recent past. Trade, employment, personal relationships all routinely take place outside the confines of any single nation state. Modern technology and modern transport make it as easy to work with, meet and chat with someone on the other side of the world as in the next town, or even the next room. People travel more for work, education and holiday. Most people no longer marry the person from next door.
We have been persuaded that immigrants threaten our livelihoods by competing for jobs, but jobs are more threatened by developments in technology such as increasing automation and artificial intelligence than young people moving to the UK from, say, Poland.
Brexit is trying to solve problems long since superseded and it ignores or even distracts from the real challenges. The rich people pushing Brexit are more likely to gain from the advances of technology than a worker made obsolete by a robot or a doctor displaced by advances in artificial intelligence. They will also gain by divide and conquer; removing the power of the collective and rolling back hard won safeguards.
Who breaks free?
It is common to hear ordinary people who support hard Brexit say the EU is a bastion of neo-liberal capitalism supporting the large corporations at the expense of the little guy; but as I see it those pushing Brexit are more likely to be attempting to escape the socially democratic policies safeguarding the rights of consumers and workers across the EU. These are the laws from which they say we must break free – so the UK can repeal those inconvenient laws which protect the little guys at the expense of profit for shareholders.
On the street Brexit supporters I speak to look back to a time when they thought things were better: more stable, simple and everything was OK. “You knew where you were then.”
We can never go back to what we were then and even if we try the rest of the world will not, so old relationships, old ways of doing business and old ways of evaluating our place in the world will never work again. Their time has long gone.
Is a Yorkshire man less Yorkshire for being English?
I hope to live long enough to see national borders have little more significance than state borders in say the US or even county borders in the UK. A Texan is a Texan as well as a US citizen; a Yorkshire man is a Yorkshire man as well as being English, British and European.
We are all one human race and the attempts to sow division – as pursued by the far right: Trump, Orban, Farage, Bannon and their ilk, now condoned by the Tory Party – will not help solve the problems of poverty, climate change or loss of natural habitat and eco-diversity – which all in turn contribute to migration and tragically in some cases war, especially when “others” are blamed.
Only collaboration and an attempt to reduce the inequalities across the planet will help. Human beings have the ability to co-operate rather than compete. Reducing everything to a zero sum game or winner takes all does not work in the face of existential problems such as climate change.
Denying these realities makes things worse not better. We will all lose.
To be a proud Briton you have to be on the international stage
Strong cultures and confidence in national identity can be used to help form bonds between nations, as they have in Europe. Anyone who is proud to be British can also be proud to be European: A citizen of Britain and a citizen of the European Union community of nations. Indeed there is no point being a proud Briton if you have nowhere to demonstrate your pride other than to yourself. Respect and admiration of others improves esteem.
The people advocating that Britain leaves the EU are not thinking about the best for Britain, but for themselves. Strength in diversity. Strength in numbers.
Remaining in the European Union is the patriotic thing to do and enhances core British values. I can’t explain it any better than Tom Watson, so I’ll leave it to him.
The core values of the EU are: Internationalism, Solidarity, Freedom. They are British, Labour values. Our future doesn’t need to be Brexit. We can change our future. But only if Labour makes the case for it – and we must. #proudlybritishproudlyeuropean pic.twitter.com/YKr5RoeLgF— Tom Watson (@tom_watson) June 17, 2019