A short, depressing note on Brexit

Yes, I know the economic consequences of Brexit are severe. This is not intended to play that down or to ignore the very real pain it will inflict on ordinary people.

But it should be clear to everyone that staying in the European Union would not heal our country. That job is much bigger and much more difficult than unwinding* the referendum vote.

Racists are emboldened; the party that has historically represented labour is near ruin; and there is a fundamental lack of understanding between those parts of society who have benefited from globalisation and those who have not.

These things scare me maybe more than the specific act of leaving the EU. We are not an united country striding confidently into “independence”, we are deeply divided and angry with each other.

I don’t think anyone knows how to fix this. Even if a plan did exist, I worry that we lack the political talent to execute it — although I am obviously looking from afar.

On the one hand, the Labour Party must win back voters for whom Ukip’s racism appeals while stopping the poison rather than adopting it. Jeremy Corbyn does not seem up to the task — that he was elected in the first place should make you doubt Labour’s ability to find someone who is.

On the other hand, the Conservative Party is on the cusp of being overtaken by clowns. Can we expect Boris Johnson, a politician whose cynicism seems boundless, to bandage the country’s wounds?

In such times you might look for a third party to offer hope: sadly the ascendant alternative political force is not the Liberal Democrats but Ukip.

We could stay in the European Union. We could leave. We’d still have this problem.

*Yes, I know it’s not legally binding, but it is politically binding. For strategies on how to remove that political binding, see this stupid suggestion and these more intelligent suggestions.