The Remain cause, and Lord Adonis
Owen Jones
2.1K51

I am a Labour member myself (and an EU27 citizen in the UK) but what always surprises me about the response to Brexit on the Left is how they fail, in this particular instance, to recognise how deeply this is a identity issue! When it is about any of the letters in BME or LGTBQ+ then most of the Left does not fail to recognise the dimension of identity and its importance, then it is about EU most of them go blank-stare.

If you are a Brit who feels a European Citizen (yes they do exist!) then (1) you felt betrayed by the Remain campaign for whom this was a purely transactional arrangement and who tried to sell it as such while pandering to the sceptics wherever they could and (2) you felt existentially threatened by the Leave campaign who made no secret of their deep desire to erase the existence of your identity and force you into a black-&-white ‘either Patriot or SabotEUr’ scheme.

In the process of referendum campaign, but especially after June the 23rd 2016 an increasing number of Remain voters have actually only started discovering that their preference, though cushioned in transactional language, was always a question of identity. Sure this will still be a minority in the UK electorate. But if you are trying to sell the referendum result to them as something we should make the best of then you are evidently not getting this fundamental point.

Democratic elections should refrain from infringing on people identities. When they do, you cannot seriously expect a response that acknowledges the ‘legitimacy’ of it all. I estimate that the referendum result in effect makes ‘foreigners’ of something like 25% of the UK passport holders who increasingly feel like ‘strangers in a strange land’.

You, Owen, like many on all political sides of ‘Remain’ are trying to know put this horse in front of your own political carriage, in your case anti-austerity (with which I agree). But that is not how it works in matters of identity. People like me, who are single and EU27 citizens; we always use our opportunity to leave and move into one of the other 27 countries where we’re treated practically as equals if we can no longer stand the fact that the UK has wilfully decided to remove many of our rights merely because we’re carrying the ‘wrong passport’. But your fellow UK citizens who have no access to German or Irish grand parents, who feel European first and British second, who cherished freedom of movement, who believed in the incremental removal of borders, who knew English history is European history and vice versa, these will be locked up on this ‘island of fools’ having to pretend they’re part of it or be called ‘SabotEUr’, ‘enemy of the people’ or worse.

What you call a ‘legitimate referendum’ is in effect the largest involuntary stripping of rights from UK citizen and 2.5 million EU27 migrants sinece the early 20th century. Crushing an identity that only many are now finding out they have. I am puzzled that you are blind to all of this and think all you need to do is convince these people to support a Corbyn-flavoured Lexit and make the best of it.

This is heading towards only one outcome: the same outcome you always find when a society decides to strip rights, deny identities of a sufficiently large section of the population.

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