Brexit 24 hours on
24 hours ago we all woke up to a new political landscape. At least some of us did. Others never actually went to bed. I vividly recall the first words my wife said to me at 0530 on June 24, 2016. Not ‘good morning’, not ‘what time is it?’, not even ‘I love you’. No, it was:
‘You don’t want to know’.
My name is Phil, I am 46, and I am a Remainer. There. I have said it. out loud. So what has the last 24 hours been like for me, and why do I feel the way I do?
My bike ride yesterday took me right through the centre of the storm that had been brewing for months: Parliament Square, or more accurately, Abingdon Street Gardens. I had a short difference of opinion with a group of Leavers given my obvious disappointment at the result. One, who looked remarkably like Bamber Gascoigne’s love child, challenged me. It went something like this:
Me: ‘F***ing rIdiculous result’
BGLC: Why? What would you have done differently?
Me: Not given the vote to the people
BGLC: Yes, but what would you have done differently?
Me: Not given the vote to the people. Let our elected politicians determine our future
BGLC: Yes, but what would you have done differently?
Me: Ok, you are clearly not listening to me. I’m off.
And with that I pedaled away to work on one of Boris’ nice new bike lanes. Oh the irony.
I was active in my support of the remain campaign on Facebook leading up to and on the day of voting. I was dismayed at the lies and mistruths being spun. One post I tackled regarding a total misrepresntation of Turkey, immigration and Schengen was subsequently removed by the poster, with a personal message apology. Apology was accepted, but damage was done. That one small example was repeated countless times by both sides of the debate. Lies, mistruths, distortions and downright flagrant politcal propoganda. How in the name of Beelzebub were we to make a reasoned, informed choice?
Subjects like control, immigration and funding were all debated hard with contradictory messages. But one hit home hard. That the £350 million we send every week to the EU would be better spent on the NHS. The paint had not even dried on the victory team’s bunting when one of the Leave leaders said this:
Lets just rewind for a moment so I can explain my reply to BGLC. David Cameron, in his attempt to secure outright victory in the last general election, appeased the far right of his party by promising a referendum on membership of the EU. And so the die was cast. The people would have a say in the most important political decision in a generation. And therein lies the root cause of the problem. And the crass irony. In his attempt to secure power, DC lost power.
So 24 hours on, what am I thinking? The same as I did before. I wish we had never been given the vote. The fact that my vote, reasonably educated as I am, has exactly the same sway as the Governor of the Bank of England, is moronic. And what of the generational voting pattern? Here you go:
Those that have the longest to live with the consequences wanted to remain. Those that don’t didn’t. Its worth pointing out that about 50% of 18–24 year olds never voted. Don’t like the result but didn’t vote? Tough. I know we can cut data in many ways, and I am sure there are many counter-arguments to this, but what I have come to realise in the last 24 hours is that for every point I made in support of ‘Remain’, there was an equally valid counter. I couldn’t win. Again, how was I to make a reasoned and informed choice? Both sides were basing much of the rhetoric on what-ifs, perhaps and maybes.
And here’s another thing. Throughout the campaign, journalists would ask members of the public if they had changed how they planned to vote based on this story, or that fact, or this debate. Not once. I repeat, NOT ONCE, did I hear someone say ‘yep, I've changed my mind’. You were either in or out. No budging, no moving, no shaking it all about.
The last 24 hours has been fascinating to stand back and watch. I have read with interest the many comments on social media. I watched live on TV, to my horror, this admission:
I have since seen many posts from people saying they thought their ‘Leave’ vote wouldn’t matter, that it was just ‘bants’ That it would be a fun thing to say to your friends that you voted out. But you did. And we are. This is what happens when you give power to the people.
My avoidance of posting on facebook was to ensure emotion did not cloud sensible reflection and judgement. And boy have we judged. The recommendation to Parliament has been made by the country. Here are scores on the doors:
By my calculation, based on 72% turnout, 37% of the voting population said ‘Leave’. That in my book is not a mandate, as I said to BGLC. However, rules are rules. 52 trumps 48. Funnily enough Trump just coincidentally happened to be in the UK yesterday. Coincidence? I don’t think so. But one thing is for sure, I really cannot crow at my American friends if their country votes him in.
So what now? Well I won’t be signing the petition for a second referendum. We played the game, we lost. I am sorry that Cameron has resigned. I am glad he has decided to leave the invocation of Article 50 to his successor. This cooling-off period is good and right for the country. And I sincerely hope that the Tories vote in a successor who is capable of harmonising a divided nation and delivering their whole manifesto, not just Brexit. Theresa May perhaps.
So what of the others in this game? BJ has shown his true colours since leaving City Hall, and they are dark and blue. Gove, well, is Gove. Just ask the teachers. Farage? Odious nasty little man. Although it begs the question as to what his single manifesto point party does now. And what they call themselves? Corbyn? His half-hearted, limp attempt to show a modicum of support for ‘remain’ was plain to see. And the Labour faithful saw it in their millions and voted accordingly.
In closing, I accept the decision. My coments are naturally pro-remain, I don’t want us to leave, but I won’t be losing any sleep over it. However, I still maintain one thing: we should never as a nation have been handed this vote in the first place. We were spun lies and mistruths, fact and fiction. We do not know or understand enough to make this decision. And if you are in any doubt, just watch the first person in this….