How did we even get here?

March 31, 2019

The post Brexit landscape in Britain looks bleak

How did we even get here?

Dear all,

It’s like watching a train crash in slow motion. Again and again, the train hurtles towards disaster and each time the collision cannot be averted, the train cannot be diverted. This then is the ongoing Brexit process.

This whole fiasco was completely avoidable: Prime Minister David Cameron promised (in 2013) the referendum merely for his own selfish political motives -- to appease the restive anti-Europe faction of his Conservative party before the 2015 general election. The Tories went on to win a majority in this election, thus no longer having to rely on the Lib Dems to prop up their coalition.

So having set Britain on this course, Cameron then opened a Pandora’s Box by moving the country towards the 2016 referendum; it was a disastrously destructive course because public opinion on the whole question of EU membership was so very polarised. This was an issue on which there was no party discipline, so the campaign saw members of opposing parties together on Remain or Leave platforms. And arguments on both sides were pretty poor, presented by lacklustre politicians amid a storm of media hysteria and general ignorance. The campaign was led by the likes of Nigel Farage, former leader of the right wing UK Independence Party and various euro-sceptic Tories and it was marked by hate mongering, anti-immigrant sentiment and outright lies.

On the 24th of June 2016 we awoke to a new reality: we were in a country that had opted (51.9%) to leave a union of Europe which had carefully built up an alliance of countries collaborating on trade, development, justice, human rights etc; an alliance that had expanded opportunities for all its citizens and provided borderless travel within Europe.

The narrative that the Leave campaign had spewed in the run-up to vote was along the lines that ‘foreigners’ were stealing jobs from Britons, and the European Parliament (more foreigners) were ‘dictating’ terms to the British people. The flames of hatred that the campaign fanned erupted in society immediately after the Brexit vote: a Polish cultural centre was defaced with graffiti, a Polish man was murdered, incidents of hijab wearing women being abused became more frequent and, according to Amnesty International, terms of derision and ethnic slurs like ‘Pakis’ made a comeback after many, many years.

Theresa May who took over from Cameron after the referendum made everything worse by calling a snap general election the following year and losing her party their majority. Being in coalition with the DUP propping the government up made everything more complicated within the parliament. The process of planning the divorce from Europe went on and on and on punctuated by May’s mind-numbing refrain that she "was committed to delivering Brexit to the British People".

Meanwhile, businesses which needed free access to Europe began making plans to relocate their offices, many moving to Ireland or the Netherlands. And then the whole nature of the ‘deal’ that the UK would leave with began to be looked at and examined and rejected and modified by the parliament…..

The Tories have allowed a narrative of hate and lies to enter public life and they have encouraged the sort of isolationism that is ill-suited to a small island nation.

By now, EU officials appear completely exasperated by the whole drama of Brexit. I personally think any assembly that has had to listen to Nigel Farage (yes, he was a member of the EU parliament even though he hated Europe) insulting them again and again would be rather glad to see the back of the U.K… That is quite sad because many in the Britain (especially the young people and those who remember that the EU was not just an economic collaboration but also a peace project) would have liked to remain in the union (48.1% voted to remain).

Obviously, I am one of the people who believe that Remain was the better option. As this country faces economic and social uncertainty (the forecasts are all bleak), one can only lament that this mess was entirely self created (by the Conservative party) and completely avoidable. The Tories have allowed a narrative of hate and lies to enter public life and they have encouraged the sort of isolationism that ill suits a small island nation. And who will rejoice when we return to this ‘splendid’ (-ly stupid) isolation: mostly a bunch of white men and women with lots of vested interests. Oh yes, some little people with difficult lives will consider Brexit a victory too, but that’s because they’ll have put their faith in the lies spewed by the Leave campaign and facilitated by Facebook and the political advertising company Cambridge Analytica.

And here is DHL with a special delivery -- some poison. Drink it, you are the one who ordered it. It was sold to you under false pretences? No matter, your fault anyway…

How did we even get here?