I’m not sure if you noticed, but the UK voted to leave the EU on Thursday. I think it made some of the late editions of the papers. Full disclosure – I voted ‘Remain’ and I am gutted at the result and fearful for what it means for my daughter and her generation, so let me get the rant bit out the way:
A large number of people voted on a subject on which pretty much none of us are experts and that is the fault of David Cameron who could’t stand up to his own party. As a result, we have now found Brexit is much more complicated than we expected. It wasn’t just “Vote Leave to get more money for the NHS”, the long term repercussions will be felt for generations to come.
Yes, the Remain campaign was based on fear – however it seems it was reasonably accurate and seeing as the Leave literature was all about how Europe is stealing your cash, straightening your bananas and sending foreign people to rob you, it’s a bit rich they complained about that. In fact, Leave’s campaign was one that lied about the cash they said would go to the NHS, lied when it implied we’d be overrun with Syrian refugees (the UK doesn’t have to take any in, but does because WE ARE NOT MONSTERS) and lied to voters that leaving the EU would cut immigration – it most likely won’t, as they are now admitting.
Funnily enough, if you tell people often enough that their woes are not caused by UK government cuts but by “bureaucrats in Brussels”, they believe you and vote accordingly. The people of Sunderland voted to leave, despite employment in the area being at the mercy of Nissan having access to European trade. Cornwall voted out and is now panicking it will lose the vast amount of money distributed to it by the EU – there are no guarantees whoever becomes PM will continue to help the county out. This was repeated all over, because the Remain campaign was too chicken to extoll the virtues of something it knew was critical to our economy, not to mention our employment rights – being in the EU.
Now we are left with impending inflation including petrol prices about to rocket, a currency that dropped at one point to Zimbabwean dollar levels and outside investors swiftly detaching their bargepoles from the UK. This would be worrying even if the two year process of leaving the Union had started, but the PM has washed his hands of it and the heads of the Leave campaign are now panicking and running as swiftly as possible in the opposite direction, admitting they didn’t really have a plan in place for if they actually won. This means the minimum two-year insecure period is increasing every day that no one takes the rudder. The markets hate insecurity; the chairman of Tesco only has to sneeze and they go into meltdown.
I know there are hundreds of different reasons people voted Leave, but if you did it to give the establishment a bashing, you didn’t really consider the consequences of that bashing trickling down to EVERY-BLOODY-BODY did you? In fact, if you wanted to bash the establishment, siding with staunch establishmentistas Boris Johnson and Michael Gove was a funny way to show it.
What do we do about it then?
The second referendum thing is a worry – it causes problems and distrust from those who won the first vote (even though the campaign was set up in expectation of defeat by a Leave supporter, Farage said he’d go for a second opinion if he lost by two percent and Brexiters threatening a judicial review if they lost after the registration deadline was extended). It would never be taken seriously and would be seen to ‘prove’ Europhiles were out of touch with democracy.
Do we just wait and hope everyone is too chicken to trigger the withdrawal and we continue as we are? I’m concerned that will extend the uncertainty and economic turmoil, but I don’t want Brexit to actually happen. I genuinely don’t know what is best, but there are some things we can do while we wait to see how it plays out:
- Hold politicians to account for the lies they tell. Currently, you can’t complain to anyone other than the offending party over false political advertising for an election or referendum. I want to lodge an official complaint over the “£350 million to the EU, which could go to the NHS” lie, but it doesn’t come under Advertising Standards Agency rules and the Electoral Commission says it can’t get meddle in the democratic process. If someone lies to gain votes, they need to be punished and we need to make sure we call them and do it publicly.
- Protect the NHS. Far from donating this mythical £350 million to hospitals and nurses, those who lead the Brexit campaign are far from friendly to the NHS. Gove wants it dismantled and replaced by “personal health accounts”, Farage wants it replaced with an insurance system like the calamitous US model and Johnson wants it privatised and for people to pay for it so they “appreciate it more”. Whoever takes charge, we need to resist their moves to destroy this fine institution, we need to be ready to protest vocally and visually.
- Don’t try and be clever when you vote. The wave of Leave voters who now regret their choice is terrifying. People say they wanted a protest vote and they didn’t think it would count. How ridiculous is that? This wasn’t a game, this had serious consequences. The writer in the Independent who said she decided to vote Leave, partially because she’d seen some Remain supporters being “snide” on social media is so infuriating. If you follow her argument to its natural conclusion, it must mean that she saw the UKIP Nazi-inspired “Breaking Point” poster and felt that was absolutely fine.
Well done if you’ve made it this far. I’m not entirely sure I’ve written this for anyone other than myself, it feels good to have got this off my chest in some form. I’ve not even proofread it so it might not make any sense at all.
The positive news after the events of the last few days is that Roy Hodgson’s England could lose to Iceland tomorrow and he still wouldn’t make the current top three of the list of the country’s most derided leaders – Cameron, Corbyn and Johnson (nominally leader of Vote Leave) have the podium positions in the bag.
Anyway, if you think THAT was a divisive referendum, next week the campaigning starts for DOGS V CATS: WHICH IS BEST? Good luck with that…