This post was written in November 2021
I voted to remain in the European Union and I campaigned for a confirmatory referendum once the terms of the Brexit deal were known. For the last five years I have been a member of the European Movement. According to popular sentiment on social media I should be happy, celebrating the empty shelves and delighting in predictions of leading supermarkets that Christmas may need to be cancelled. I should be out there searching for more evidence of Brexit damage and revelling in “I told you so”.
But I’m not.
Will of the people
I’m anything but pleased and I am certainly not happy. I cannot remember ever feeling so depressed at the state of the country. When Mrs May decided to trigger article 50 without proper debate or plan, relying instead on the democratically dangerous basis of “will of the people”, my disappointment at losing turned into alarm.
I asked a historian if reliance solely on “will of the people” ever ended well. Not that he knew of. They were either swiftly stopped or it ended with tanks on the streets. The problem being that there is no one mind or will of the people. “Will of the people” is interpreted to suit those in power and eventually the rulers dictate the will to the people and only those who support it remain “of the people”.
It didn’t take long before disagreement was being equated with betrayal or even treachery and senior judges upholding the constitution brought accusations of being “enemies of the people“.
Citizens were being invited and encouraged to support the undermining of the very mechanisms which protected their rights and liberties and their ability to hold governments to account. But Brexit. It was hidden behind protecting Brexit, a patriotic duty.
Prices will rise
So now more than five years after the vote the economic impacts of Brexit are beginning to be felt. Prices will rise and choice will reduce. Opportunities will be lost and job patterns change, most probably for the worse in the majority of but not all cases. Mobility and educational opportunities have been significantly reduced. The young will be the hardest hit.
Me? Rising prices, import costs hitting on-line purchases, higher holiday costs and inconveniences are all that are likely to affect me. I can cope. My career is over and I’m comfortably off & I’ve spent four years building my own fresh food supply chain from 50metres outside my back door. Brexit is more an emotional wrench for me as my career was based on European identity, freedoms and rights. Indeed it was largely launched through freedom of movement although I did not realise it at the time. I just took it for granted. Now youngsters will not have the same opportunities.
Brexit wasn’t the solution and rejoining won’t fix everything
I am still campaigning with the European Movement for pragmatic solutions to the problems caused by Brexit, and currently the pragmatic solutions involve closer co-operation with the EU. We aren’t campaigning to rejoin just yet. Maybe not for years. Closer co-operation and realism about aligned standards, economies of scale and the need to minimise trade barriers will help the economy. Taking part in EU provided schemes such as Erasmus+, Galileo and Horizon will help remove the disadvantages Brexit imposes on research and education. But just as leaving the EU was not a solution to the problems most often cited by the Leave voters who attended our campaign stalls, rejoining will not fix the most serious problems of our country.
Biggest problem is an unaccountable and corrupt government
Yes, I think Brexit was and is a mistake. I believe the current approach is national self harm, but I no longer believe it is the biggest problem for our country. That dubious honour goes to the unaccountable, corrupt regime that calls itself a Conservative government. A government that has taken political spin and turned it into egregious lying. A government that uses its huge majority to change laws in its own favour (restrictions on protests, removal of our rights to challenge their unlawful decisions, outlawing whole ways of life, syphoning public money to cronies, manipulating the franchise, whipping up unwarranted fears of, well anything that gives them an excuse to remove more rights.
This post was written in November 2021