This fight is about more than Brexit now. It’s about the type of country we want to live in.
Since that act of self-harm last Thursday it has become increasingly clear that the fight that lies ahead is not solely about the intricacies of whether we go for a Norwegian or a Canadian option in our negotiations with the EU. A battle far more profound is afoot. It is a struggle to determine precisely what sort of country we want the UK to be.
We must ask ourselves now, is this a country where racial abuse is uncommon and racist attitudes deemed shameful. Or is it a country where a vote supposedly about free trade and sovereignty is taken as a cue to unleash ignorance and hatred against anyone who speaks with an accent or has dark skin? Is it one where the existence of such abuse is denied by the very politicians who, knowingly or otherwise, let that old scourge return?
Is the UK a country where we listen to the next generation and make sure they inherit a better world than ours? Or is it one where the views and ideals of three quarters of young people who voted on Thursday are outgunned by a generation, once the most idealistic of the last century, now eaten up by pessimism and narrowness. Is this a country where thatcoup against the young staged in just one day is allowed to compound a decades-long disenfranchisement of the young led by a generation more concerned about protecting their inflated house prices than securing livelihoods for their children.
Is this a country where we welcome those from overseas? Or one where our Prime Minister sends a shiver down the spine of our friends and colleagues when he tells the House of Commons that the status of EU citizens living in the UK is now a matter for negotiation by bureaucrats?
In short, is the UK to be a nation shaped by open minds, a spirit of solidarity and a love of diversity and free choice? Or will it be shaped by willful ignorance, division and narrowness. Is this the country of the sour bigot Katie Hopkins and that toy-town Trump, Nigel Farage or a land fit for the big-hearted and generous-spirited?
Our politicians will no doubt blather on about the minutiae of Article 50 for months to come but others already see this battle for what is really is. They were out on the streets of London this evening in their thousands protesting against Brexit. There will be an even bigger demonstration on Saturday and probably larger ones to follow. Look at the photos of the first movers, the shock troops in the protest against this nation’s wooden-headedness. They are the young. They have found their cause. But it wont stay limited to Brexit. As the placards and chants show, that shrewd generation already sees that this is a fight for the heart and soul of the country.
The silly, pointless, pompous decision on Thursday has finally provoked the revolt of the Millennials. But anybody, no matter how old they are, who shares their desire for an open rather than a closed future for the UK should join them.
Details of the protest on Saturday against Brexit can be found here.
You can help fund further demos here.
My book outlining a new agenda to fight populism is called ‘Small is Powerful: Why the era of big business, big government and big culture is over’. It is published on 30th June but can be pre-ordered. You can follow me on Twitter here.