Regrexit

Yesterday evening I watched a video, a young woman interviewed on national television, already regretting that she and her sisters and parents had voted to leave Europe, and wishing for another try at voting to put it right.

To say that, the day after the historic vote, smacks of an extreme level of naivete, a complete ignorance of both the issues and the consequences of one's own actions…

But hey, she got on the telly!

I've not much more to say on the European Referendum - not until we get some indication of likely trends, political decisions. Not until the dust settles. What there is for now, it's here.

It goes on for a bit.

Thursday was not the day for registering a protest vote, not the day for 'sending a message to Europe', not the day for 'sending a message to the British Parliament', no. Neither was Thursday the day to vote as one's friends, family and/or colleagues voted - to vote that way because your peers were.

Thursday perhaps wasn't the best day for a first-ever vote, and not the best day for that protest vote after a lifetime of assuming that votes don't matter, assuming that votes are meaningless…

At the last local election I decided to not vote. Not 'couldn't be bothered to', not a decision based on apathy but a decision based on an inability of the candidates and their parties to engage with me when it mattered.

I remain, despite my decades of votes, in general terms politically naive. I also believe that my vote could one day be the decider in a closely-fought election; a single vote to break a stalemate of indecision.

I believe that my 2 NON-Liberal/Liberal Democrat votes changed politics subtly - first the Green vote when 'everybody' voted Green that time, and then the UKIP vote when everybody voted UKIP that time.

Both votes felt good. GOOD. Yeah.

The time for a protest vote had passed before Thursday, it's just those voting for the first time ever, those contributing o the record turnout, didn't know it.

Now, I've seen individuals and political parties asking us to not demonise those who voted to leave Europe, to instead embrace them and work together to shape this nation towards a positive future.

Nope. I have the right to look disdainful at them, the right to shake my head and tut disapprovingly.

On Facebook and Twitter yesterday, and for the first time ever I used the term 'fucktards'. I honestly cannot see past the sadness and yes anger, that I felt on seeing the result. The politicians handed the future of our nation over to the people and assumed we'd know what to do. I say 'we' yeah, about that…

Nope. Not me. My half a brain's just big-enough to realise an attempt to re-assert our unique identity in the face of Euro-creep is ill-timed.

The British brand is very, very well-established worldwide. Though the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish (sorry Northern Ireland) identify must often be explained to foreigners, we're not anonymous even within Europe.

Perceptions though; the Blitz, British Bulldog, stiff-upper lip, two-fingers-up-at-the-world, don't panic image remains strong at home.

Resilience under duress. The British Empire. Yeah.

How can we use the gift handed to us by the political machine to our advantage? What choices do we have now?

'We're all in this together.'

'We need our Big Society to pull us through.'

'We've taken back control!'

Miles, pounds and ounces, pints, feet and inches, curved bananas, our own armed forces, immigration, £350 million, yeah!

Yeah.

'Fucktards' though? Where do they come in?

Well, aside from the simple fact they've always been here, yesterday, and against the backdrop of my previous blog posts, I posted this on Facebook:

'Hmmm…

Leave voters*: "We got our country back!'

Rest of the world, washing hands as 10% is wiped off the value of the Pound in overnight currency trading: 'Yeah.'

*Can I SAY 'Fucktards' here?"

And, a little later, this:

"One final thought, please treat as rhetorical:

Who are 'we' going to blame THIS one on?"

Thursday was a day to vote armed (if you like) with knowledge gained after months of campaigning, at worst a basic understanding of the likely and immediate outcomes of a vote to leave, a day to think of the future.

Thursday was a day to vote knowing that foreigners would 'respect the wishes of the British', knowing that the financial markets would react predictably (badly for us and the rest of the world!), and knowing that the fallout from the vote would…

One can't argue against Democracy: at its best giving everyone an equal voice in the decision-shaping process, and at its worst giving everyone an equal voice in the decision-shaping process. We live in good times - when an ordinary person has as much influence as a wealthy, influential, fingers-in-all-the-pies, er… person.

But we are not all equal. Not everyone cared enough to research the issues and voted based in probabilities, based on a broad grasp of historical trends, based on an objective view of the realities of the modern business world.

The good news, such as it is, is this: the vote was close, and crucially is not binding on Parliament.

Close-enough that it's not too big a stretch to see that regrets might play a factor in future voter behaviour.

Our MPs and, I'm guessing here, the Lords, don't HAVE to vote to leave, don't HAVE to follow the will of 52% of the people.

The Prime Minister has already resigned, the Labour Party leader is facing a vote of no confidence ALREADY.

Uncertainty.

I'm guessing that a percentage Remain vote similar to Gibraltar's 96% to Remain would have made the decision easy for the majority of our political representatives. The overall 52%/48% split though makes things, er… difficult. Not impossible.

Would YOU want to be the politician who voted to remain despite your constituents' clear message? Would YOU deny their wishes even though your (hopefully!) deeper understanding of the issues gives you an insight the voters denied themselves?

It's all we have to put this right, all there is standing between us and years of austerity, misery and regret.

---

Assume I'm wrong.

Assume the politicians vote with their constituents. Out!

Then what? What must we do to ensure our economy establishes a firm footing? What is there, what are we not doing already, that will establish us as an economic entity trading from outside Europe?
 
I was probably wrong in thinking we must invent new industries post-Brexit. I was probably wrong on thinking that we need to dramatically shift the way we think about trade to make us more attractive to the rest of the world.

New industries: if it were that easy we'd have done it by now. There's nothing from Europe stopping us.

Trading differently: I don't know. Tariffs imposed by the rest of the world's trading blocs are likely to be the decider here; we must trade at a rate advantageous to both sides. 'Great' British pride must not stand in the way of hacking out a deal.

I don't know how long negotiations will take. Our best bet is simply to roll over and accept the terms allowed to Norway, Switzerland and soon Canada.

So why money, why am I not looking at immigration? I've heard, so many times, that 'we're full!'

No we're not, not by a long way. When was the last time you were unable to leave your home because the street was packed full of people? When did you fail to get your shopping due to mile-long, er… kilometre-long checkout queues?

Not full, see. Poorly-distributed.

Theres no doubt that areas across the nation see an influx of immigrants and naturally resent the erosion of their way of life.

We're struggling to maintain access to essential services for everyone, but that's not the fault of immigrants. Yeah, sure if there weren't any we'd have full employment, no need for a minimum wage and zero-hours contracts, the NHS would be fully-staffed and open 7 days a week, we wouldn't be shutting hospital accident and emergency units and merging maternity units, no.

It's about the distribution of money. The north fares badly. HS2 won't benefit us for decades, if ever, if it's ever built. The Northern Powerhouse is a Big Society bedfellow - a thing that removes government from decision-making and pushed it onto local government and businesses.

Inequality.

But still, what money do we have? Can we spend the £350,000,000 per week allocated to Europe?

Allocated to, not sent.

Last year the government took in £533,373,000,000 in tax.

Divide that by the Europe money multiplied by 52 weeks per year, divide 1 by it, and multiply the result by 100. What do you get?

3.41 - the percentage of our tax receipts allocated to Europe.

Wow. Allocated to not sent, but still A Big Number.

What do we get back, what's the net total we give to Europe?

Already the Welsh and Cornish are asking that the government matches the grants received from Europe - grants used to preserve their food, language and customs for future generations. The farmers and fishermen will follow, and the engineers, artists, broadcasters, tourism organisations…

The £350,000,000 allocated to build one hospital per week looks in danger of being eroded a bit already! Oh dear. Maybe we should settle for building 50,having 2 weeks off for Christmas, and using the leftover money to staff the hospitals instead!

It won't work but it's a start.

£350,000,000 multiplied by 52 is itself a quite large number.

£18,200,000,000. Wow.

Cornwall most recently took 0.33% of that.

So, let's ignore what we get back from Europe and concentrate on what we SEND there.

Well, from fullfact.org:

"In 2015 the UK government paid£13 billion to the EU budget, and EU spending on the UK was £4.5 billion. So the UK’s ‘net contribution’ was estimated at about £8.5 billion."

But wait, £350M per week is £18.2B - what's happening there? An instant rebate, albeit negotiated, that's what, but still considerably less than the £350M figure per week quoted ad nauseam by the Brecon camp.

A net contribution of £8.2B. What's that per week?

£157.7M per week. Wow. Maybe we should just cut back our hospital building programme, to perhaps 21 per year? Not looking as good now, is it? That's still preserving a Christmas break; important to note, that.

There are all kinds of savings to be made though:

* Members of the European Parliament,
* Bureaucrats employed on European stuff,
* Er… that's it, right?

As time passes my certainty diminishes that I'll not see anarchy in my lifetime. My wish erodes to see a bright future for my girls. The belief that as a major player in a major co-operative movement we can shape history and nations for the better is eliminated in favour of observations of narrow-mindedness.

Songs/song titles of our times:

* Anarchy in the UK: The Sex Pistols.

* Road To Nowhere: Talking Heads.

* Love Will Tear Us Apart: Joy Divison - and some lyrics for you:

"When routine bites hard,
And ambitions are low,
And resentment rides high,
But emotions won't grow,
And we're changing our ways,
Taking different roads.

Then love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again."

I hope mine is an overreaction.

Yes, I AM still scared.

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