As a Remainer, a Leaver, or somewhere in between, you have to admit that the EU referendum last year, and its subsequent fallout, was (and continues to be) a mess of epic proportions. It has also been a magnifying glass that showed what a mess the UK was actually in already and how such a vote became possible.
Whether to leave the EU or not was such a super massive huge decision, with so many variables, it is insane that it was put to a public vote. I am all for more democracy, obviously, but we’re not cut out for it currently. Not on a level any higher than picking who makes all the decisions and ending it there. I do not know enough about economics, trade, and the way in which the laws are made to fully understand the pros and cons of being in or out. Neither did pretty much every voter as they made their decision on 23 June 2016. Add that onto a culture in which lying is rife in the media and from politicians and, well, the mess, as well as its epic-ness, was predictable.
David Cameron will go down in history as a moron for calling a referendum to appease far right Tories and UKIP. And, on top of that, being to blasé about it that he didn’t even put in the safeguard of a leave vote needing a two thirds majority; which, on a change this big, a change with so many longstanding ramifications, was very much needed. Mentioning that it was only advisory at some point would have been nice, too; a fact that I only found out after the vote.
As we all know, from trustworthy sorts in the Tory Party and right wing newspapers, the final decision was the “will of the people” of course. The will of 51.9% of the people who voted; the will of 38% of Scotland’s people; the will of 44.2% of Northern Ireland’s people; the will of 4% of Gibraltar’s people; the will of 37% of the total electorate of British people. A majority that is apparently “clear, overwhelming and unarguable,” David Davis tells the Remoaners.
What makes this low majority even worse, is that it is looking clearer and clearer that if the referendum were to happen again it would very easily be a win for Remain. Enough people, by now, are clear that the lies on the leave side were overwhelmingly obvious. I wish they had seen how obvious it was before they voted, because it was blatant even then. But hey, at least the liars were punished with such things as, you know, high level government positions and numourous media appearances on the BBC. That’ll teach you Boris and Nige! They’ll think twice about lying to the UK people again!
The £350 million for the NHS was the main (and unbelievably blatant) lie, discredited on the first day after the vote. Two other big ones (peddled by right wing newspapers long before the referendum was even considered) were claims about a loss of UK sovereignty and about immigration. The sovereignty of UK Parliament is a fundamental principle of the constitution, even throughout EU membership. The UK agreed to 95% of EU laws and even got a lot of them started. And if sovereignty means putting all this important shit in the hands of Theresa May, then we’re better off without it.
I have written in length about immigration previously, but the anti-immigration rhetoric was the main reason the Leave vote won in many places, and thus in general. It is an age old lie that many people are unfortunately too stupid to deflect. Immigration is not only good for a country economically, it is also the right thing to let happen ethically. Whatever your views on this, anyway, it is still very unclear, perhaps even unlikely, that there will be any drop in immigration after we leave. And if there is, the UK will be in a worse position economically, culturally and ethically. Yay.
Saying all this, I have never been rigidly against leaving the EU. I nearly voted that way, and probably would have done so if we had a left wing government in power. But with the right reigning supreme, there was no way I would consider contributing to this decision on their terms. As Mick Jones (nearly) sang: “If we stay there will be trouble and if we go it will be double.”
The European Union is great in principal. And much of it is great in practise. I see it as more left of our Conservative party, but more right of an old Labour one. The EU, after all, is massively business orientated; okay, it is the world we live in, but there has definitely been some overly romantic rhetoric from much of the Remain side. I totally agree that working together is better, if genuine unity can be achieved – the benefits in regards to security and economy seem to be overwhelmingly in the Remain camps favour. Plus, the stuff I keep hearing about how much leaving will cost Britain is horrifying, such as the £60 billion Philip Hammond been put aside for it – that’s a whole lot of £350 million NHS buses. However, the EU certainly ain’t a utopian ideal at this point. I basically agreed with the Green Party’s stance, that it would have been better to stay in and reform, than to crash out and have zero say.
I am torn about whether the result should just be rejected all together. There are plenty of reasons to do so, due to the things I previously mentioned – the lying, the changing of public opinion, the referendum only being advisory, there not being a large enough majority, the completely disgusting way in which the Tories are predictably handling it, and so on. However, rejecting a democratic decision like this would be a dangerous precedent. The mess has happened now, unfortunately, and it is probably better to concentrate on getting the best possible leave deal rather than trying to block it altogether. If May turned around and said “actually this is mental, fuck it” and just stopped the leave process, I’d go along with it and give her a (albeit suspicious) high five. But it is not going to happen, and I cannot see how it can now.
As Theresa May (nearly) said: “Brexit means Brexshit” and she really does intend on it being so. It is an awful reality, but we need to focus on limiting the awfulness as much as possible by protesting the type of leave deal rather than the unfortunate decision itself. I think. It is all very very fucking confusing. And such a huge waste of everyone’s time and resources.