I’m not quite done with my trip to the UK, but I wanted to jot down some thoughts on Brexit before flying back. Partly because blogging is much cheaper than therapy, but mostly because I don’t want my upcoming ‘nice things I did at home’ post to be overlaid with lots of doom and gloom about our national implosion.
I stayed up until 3.30am on the night of the result, as it became increasingly obvious that England & Wales had voted to leave. And the feeling in the pit of my stomach was much worse than a disappointing general election. On those nights there is a feeling of gloom, as you watch your country move down a path you wish it hadn’t chosen. But on the night of the EU Referendum, it just felt like nihilism. To feel you have won absolutely nothing from Europe or from globalisation is one thing, but voting Leave also says – with such miserable certainty – that you have no hope for your children or grandchildren either, so pull up the drawbridge and damn the lot of them.
This doesn’t mean that the country is finished, of course, although it’s quite possible that the Union is. But the vote was not won on a manifesto. There was no plan. The leaders of Leave just burned the house down and walked away. There are intellectual arguments, yes, on the right (obsessed, in a rather un-British way, with abstract metaphysics about sovereignty) and the left (keen to prove themselves useful idiots by quitting Europe’s ‘capitalist club’) but neither are why Britain voted to Leave. It’s about immigration, stupid.
I know the ‘elite’ 48% of the country who voted to Remain are now required to humble themselves at anti-migration sentiment. But surrendering to a lie won’t make it true. Reducing migration from inside or outside the European Union will not create a single job, build a single house or care for a single person. No one will win from this. Impoverishment does not enrich culture. When the reckoning comes, and the betrayal is unmasked, the rage that will erupt will be terrifying.
I am disappointed, actually, that Boris will not become Prime Minister. As a lightweight without convictions – just like Cameron – there was a good chance he would choose the easy life domestically and avoid the wilder fringes of Conservative thought. And as the leader of Leave, who never wanted to win, he had the best chance of pulling off the closest possible deal with the EU. Clearly Michael Gove came to the same conclusion, as he knifed him.
Corbyn is not worth more words. Thank goodness for Sadiq Khan.
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