My husband follows a local Facebook group populated mainly by hard Brexiters and for some reason he thinks it amusing to read some of their posts to me. The posters are enthusiastic about “no-deal” Brexit and, as you may expect, challenge anyone against it to have faith and belief in Britain (or in some cases England). But why do they have such confidence?
No idea what no deal means
From the comments they make there is only one possible conclusion. They have no idea what no-deal Brexit means. I know it is considered elitist arrogance to say it and we are supposed to pretend that everyone’s views are valid and superior to evidence and fact, but I’ll risk it.
It isn’t a matter of a them making a political decision with which I disagree. I now consider they have made a political decision which they don’t understand and refuse to defend, citing as justification, will of the people. The contradictory arguments, flat denial of any serious consequences or invocation of the war time spirit are both alarming and amusing.
An opening salvo of “No deal Brexit will be great, all the doomsayers are scaremongering” often ends with “We won two world wars, where’s the blitz spirit? We’ll survive”.
My other favourite about turn is exchanges which start with the assertion “This is what we voted for” but then end blaming the EU for causing the mess we are in: “It’s the EU’s fault if we have to leave with no deal” .
Blissful ignorance or blind belief?
I don’t know whether this is because the laws, logic and realities of world trade are too difficult for Brexiters to understand or because, in their blind ideology they have never bothered to think about it.
Given the hostile, subject changing or dismissive responses to any information provided, I suspect, for the majority, it is the latter. Surely there can’t be so many thick people in the country.
It might also explain this common, and for me frustrating, exchange:
“Surely no one voted for this mess and all these problems.”
“I knew exactly what I was voting for: to Leave the EU. Out means out.”
“But what does ‘out’ mean? How did you think it would effect us?”
“It just means we wouldn’t be in the EU. That’s what I voted for.”
Could it really be that to these voters the consequences were so irrelevant they didn’t even stop to think about them and now don’t want to know? Ideology trumps information!
Only Brexiters can see the future
Point out there are predictable effects of leaving the EU arising by automatic operation of law and they say no-one knows what will happen; except them apparently. They confidently assert that any warnings are project fear and that everything will be better once we’re out.
But challenge further and the responses tend to be “this is Britain, those sort of things don’t happen here, we aren’t some third world country, we’re the fifth largest economy, someone will sort it out.”
To me this suggests that at least at some level these hard-liners acknowledge Brexit will damage essential processes but it is of no consequence because they will be quickly and effectively replaced. We will hardly notice more than a few “bumps in the road.”
Brexiters don’t represent all Leave voters
These hardliners still claim to speak for 17.4 million but I know from my own experience of talking to people out on the street – strangers at street stalls – that no-deal Brexiters no more represent many leave voters than do I as a Remainer.
It is clear not everyone who voted Leave voted just to be out of the EU. People who believed Boris Johnson and his bus are not amused now that the government is making plans to stock pile medicines, challenging the right of some EU27 NHS staff to settled status and failing to deny that people may die. Some of these people, to put it mildly, are furious that their vote is being used to justify the opposite of what they had expected.
We managed before
Brexiters love to assure us that “we will be fine”. They remind me of a boss I once had. The company’s IT department had installed a local area network connecting all the computers in the building and then provided an internet connection and internal and external email services. Several months after it was all up and running the boss complained that we had wasted money on the network as we only needed the email and internet. He pressed us to save money on support and maintenance by removing the network. In his ignorance he fully believed the email would continue to function unaffected without the network.
The boss could have said “we managed before” and indeed we did. We could have returned to paper based memos, letters through the post and faxes. It would have put us at a competitive disadvantage against our market rivals who had also adopted the (then) new technology but we could have done it.
Most upsetting is that too many of the ideological no-deal Brexiters appear not care what damage their desired Brexit will cause to others, particularly the EU27 and their families in the UK or the UK citizens in the EU27 countries.
If faced with verifiable personal stories when denial isn’t possible, even for such ideologues, a typical reaction is to look for a personal failing of the person involved. It seems important that the victim him/herself is to blame for their own predicament rather than the hostile Brexit environment. Nothing to do with me.
Today (27th August) a group of MPs met to try to find a way to prevent a no-deal Brexit. The threat of the new Prime Minister, Johnson, proroguing or abusing process to suspend parliament to prevent it stopping his crash out at the end of October is hanging over them.
For years the Brexiters have claimed they had voted to take back control. They claim to be the champions of British laws for British people, independence, freedom! Now they are cheering on a move more fitting to a dictator. They say they are defending democracy but couldn’t be more un-British in their so called fight for the survival of British values.
A dangerous game
Whatever the Brexiter in the street or posting on Facebook believes, the Prime Minister knows that there is no mandate for a no-deal Brexit. Not now, not ever. He certainly knows it is against the will of parliament and so understands perfectly that proroguing parliament to force through a ‘will of the people’ he has no mandate to claim is the action of a dictator. Yes, he knows, but he doesn’t care, he is pandering to the hard-line crowd to try to win back their votes. Recklessly he is engaging in a race to the bottom to outdo right-wing extremists who will not stop short of fascism.
Johnson is playing a dangerous game.
Some of the hard Brexiters are threatening civil disorder if Brexit is stopped. More frightening is what they might do if it isn’t.