Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Brexit wasn't my choice but we have to live with it

I can only think of a couple of good reasons for leaving the EU but I can think of many for staying in. But it's happened, so much of the talk in the media has been on whether we can overturn it, so let's focus on reasons I think the vote isn't an accurate reflection of public opinion:

1) At least some of the people who voted for it did so because they believed one or more of the following:

  • That we would 'take back control' from unelected bureaucrats (MEPs are elected, unlike Theresa May who has chosen a bunch of Brexiters to oversee proceedings) but in fact, we will be left desperately trying to sell ourselves to other countries - and this has already started with the PM's desperate early meeting with Trump shows
  • That we would remain in the single market but on our own terms and would save on our EU membership cost whilst making more money than before (playing hardball with the EU is not paying off and we look like being out of the single market and unable to trade freely with EU nations)
  • That we would give £350m per week to the NHS (not sure where they got that idea)
2) At least some of the people who voted to leave will be dead by the time we actually do and be replaced in the electorate by young people who would more likely have voted to remain

3) 16-18 year olds (whilst old enough to marry and have children) were denied a vote on their future. They would most likely have voted to remain.

However, I don't think the vote should be overturned. Whilst I think this is the worst episode in post-war British political history (created by the worst Prime Minister in post-war British political history), lies in the media and from politicians is nothing new. Virtually every government is elected on promises they either had no intention of carrying out, or fail miserably to do so. It's all words and Brexit is no different.

What is different is that, for the first time in a very long time, the forgotten millions from Berwick to Bexhill and Solway to Sennen have had their voices heard. Yes, maybe many of them did so because they were misinformed about what it would mean. In some cases because they're a bit racist. But a lot of those who voted to leave the EU did so because they have been forgotten by successive (Conservative, Labour, Coalition and Conservative again) governments, left to fend for themselves in areas with decreasing opportunities and devoid of meaningful or worthwhile investment and support.  Meanwhile the capitalist classes reap the benefits new infrastructure projects, lower corporation taxes, tax cuts for the highest earners and our senior politicians going to the EU to argue on behalf of special treatment for their industries. As the invisible majority saw it, the establishment wanted them to vote remain, so they told them to shove it.

Leaving the EU will fall hardest on the areas which voted strongly for Brexit but if those in power and those with influence were to even try to ignore their vote, it would only further their belief that the political classes hold absolutely no value in them whatsoever. Millions of people would be even more separate from political decisions made in this country. They would be less likely to vote in elections than they are now and as a result, would be less likely to get a government who might actually do something to help them, and so the situation would snowball.

The difference between the affluent and the rest is already too wide and it is widening quickly and overturning Brexit would only make that worse. Instead, let's listen to what the public voted for and most importantly, make sure they are part of what happens next.

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