Saturday, 9 July 2016

VOTE IN HASTE, REPENT AT LEISURE



As those of you who know me at all well will no doubt testify, the S in my name does not stand for "serious".  I can normally be relied on to find some small vestige of humour in just about any situation.  Sadly, this cannot be said of the events of the past two weeks. So this, dear friends, is that most rare of commodities: a serious post.

I've just returned to the UK after a two-week holiday in France - a holiday which began on the day after the EU referendum result was announced, and a holiday throughout which I've constantly felt obliged to apologise for being English.  I felt distinctly uncomfortable in a country of the European Union when I came from a nation which had, only a few days earlier, voted (albeit by a narrow margin) in favour of leaving that same Union.

A few days into the holiday, I spotted a French news placard which announced that the UK had voted for Brexit and were now regretting it.  During the aftermath of the result, it gradually became apparent that a critical number of people who voted Leave had done so entirely for the wrong reasons, and were only now beginning to realise the long-term implications of what they had really voted for.


The EU referendum was not like electing a government, where mistakes made at one ballot box can be rectified a few years later at the next.  This was a once-in-a-generation decision which would have massive repercussions reaching far beyond the lifetimes of many of those who made it.  Unfortunately, media reports following the result now suggest that this message does not appear to have got through to a significant proportion of the electorate.

Some, thinking that it wouldn't affect them, failed to vote at all.  Others, convinced that Remain would win, voted Leave because they didn't think it would make any difference. Others saw their vote as nothing more than a protest vote against the government.  And others said they had voted Leave "to save the country from the Tories" - totally failing to realise that a Leave result would deliver the country straight into the hands of the xenophobic far-right.

But - and this is far more worrying - many others were taken in by what can only be described as one of the most despicable con-tricks of all time: the implication (put about by the Leave campaign) that a departure from the EU would result in a massive cash injection for the National Health Service.  The figure of £350 million, emblazoned on the side of the Vote Leave campaign bus, appeared to be convincing enough to sway a lot of previously undecided voters into voting Leave - believing that by doing so they would be helping to save the struggling NHS.  



Yet within hours of the referendum result being announced, UKIP leader and key pro-Leave campaigner Nigel Farage admitted on national television that the figure was "a mistake".  In other words, a lie.

Other people, unhappy with the EU rules on free movement throughout all member states, were seduced by the promise that Brexit would halt the high level of EU immigration into the UK. Some apparently even believed that if Leave won, then UK borders would be closed immediately and all the immigrants would disappear overnight.  The days following the referendum saw a massive increase in hate crime and racist abuse.  In fact, the free movement rules will continue to apply for as long as Britain remains in the EU (and possibly even after it has left) - during which time the number of UK immigrants may well go up rather than down.

So - no cash boost for the NHS, and no halt to immigration.  It was only when these facts became public knowledge that the people of the UK realised - alas, too late - the extent to which so many of their voters had been duped.

Since then, as the country plunged into political and economic chaos, it became hideously apparent that Brexit had no post-referendum action plan.  What is even more sickening is that two of Brexit's most prominent campaigners (Boris "I'm-Not-The-Person-To-Lead-This-Country" Johnson and Nigel "My-Work-Here-Is-Done-And-I-Want-My-Life-Back" Farage) have now turned their backs on it, leaving others to deal with the monster they have created.  

I'm not saying the EU is perfect - far from it.  Indeed, since the UK joined the European Economic Community (as it then was) back in 1973, the EEC has not only evolved into what is now the European Union but has also more than doubled in size - as a result of which its level of bureaucracy has increased exponentially.  And I'm quite prepared to accept that many people who voted Leave did so because, after careful consideration of the arguments for and against, they genuinely believe that the UK would be better off if we didn't belong.  

Fair enough.  If I could only be sure that this was the reasoning behind each and every Leave vote, rather than an ill-considered decision based on false promises made by people who had no intention of delivering them, I think I'd have a lot less difficulty coming to terms with the outcome.


7 comments:

  1. Good blog. Sums up how I feel too.
    I am also sickened by Cameron's actions - calling the referendum but then not being prepared to deal with the result. Another one to just throw his hands up and say 'ah f**k it, leave it to someone else'.
    What a total shambles the whole thing is.

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  2. Exactly my view, Sue. And worse than Cameron,. Johnson going for Brexit and then not being prepared to offer a solid strategy for teh fallout and accusing the rest of the government of not having one. ?! Shouldn't eh be the one offering the way forward?
    I had a migraine that lasted from early morning of the 24 until the following Sunday.
    The press, apart from the Guardian, has been wishy-washy as has the BBC.
    MyY view is that we need to be in Europe, Europe needs us in, the world needs us in Europe. Even if some things are uncomfortable for us. I will not apologize for my view. I will try very hard to respect the view of others if it it is different from mine. This time it is difficult: I know a lot about Europe and I work in a university within a directorate of English and Contemporary History and Politics. Some of my colleagues know even more.
    My blood pressure goes up every time I think about it.

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  3. I absolutely agree! And what is more, not only has the Referendum vote caused a problem for the UK on the global stage, it has also caused a constitutional crisis the like of which Britain has not seen in my lifetime, and probably not in several lifetimes before that. Who knows what comes next? I certainly don't see the bright new dawn that the Brexit camp would have us believe is just around the corner.

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    1. Cameron has been accused of cowardice for resigning. You may rmemeber when the question came up in the campaign, everyone said that he was the best placed person to carry the post Brexit negotiations through. He was having none of it. he was basically saying, you created this situation - you deal with it! On the morning of the result, Boris was nowhere to be seen because he was really shocked that his campaign won. he didn't want to be the man to push the big red button. He was only interested in Cameron's job - nothing else. Gove, Borish Johnson's campiagn manager put a stop to that, and his own career too.

      Indeed weeks before the campaign started he said that it would be madness to leave the EU. Gove & IDs started hinting that the negotiations should take some long before we invoke article 50. They said that we should be "feeling our way gently" to find the right negotiating strategy with Europe for a smooth exit. Within hours the EU emphatically stated that there would be no "soft" talks until we invoke clause 50. So they didn't want to push the button either. The only person who wants to jump in invoke article 50 is Angela Leadsman. She is the secret weapon of the tories to bring back UKIP voters to the party.

      So we have no government, and no opposition either. We could wind up with the Scottish Nationalist being the official opposition party in Parliament and they want to leave the UK! It's a bloody mess.

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  4. A sad state of affairs indeed. Many people I know voted leave and they enjoy free movement across the Union, some of them with 2nd homes in Spain and beyond. Nigel Farages dispicable poster on the day that Joe Cox MP was brutally murdered in street by a man screaming "take back our country - Britain first" was the lowest point of the campaign. Joe Cox has been largely forgotten now, but her name will reappear soon and remind poeple of the hate filled rehtoric of campaign that led to a madman to do such a horrible thing.

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  5. If it's any consolation, the EU Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, is fully aware of all this and has slammed Farage in public. He said in a video at the european Parliament that he wouldn't forget the 48% who voted Remain. It's on his FB page which I visit when need a bit of sanity... Other MPs such as Anna Soubry are on our side and don't seem to be toeing the party line...I just hope they stand by their wordswhen it comes to the crunch.

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  6. I echo your comments I feel the same.I also find it difficult to swallow that 100s of thousands of British expats didn't get the opportunity to vote even though it directly affects them. What I don't understand is why the pro Europe or remain politicians didn't honor and encourage ex pats rights to vote it would perhaps helped to swing the result. I can only conclude that they were either over confident or has another agenda.

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