Friday, June 24, 2016

So, we voted for Brexit

They say it's the hope that kills you. When the polls swung back to Remain before last weekend, I actually felt relaxed for the first time in a long while. We had a lovely weekend too. By last night, it was being called for Remain, but the alarm bells were ringing. And after a sleepless night when I avoided keeping up with the results, the result was announced.

For the first time in a long while, the majority of people in this country have voted for something. Let's remember that. We live in a country where a majority government can be formed on around 36-37% of the popular vote. Where the Prime Minister can resign and a general election isn't automatically triggered, so the ruling party can continue unopposed with a new person in place.

In the meantime, we have been subjected to a tissue of lies and half-truths by both camps, but most specifically the Leave side. Nowhere is this more evident than their battle buses proclaiming the £350m a week we save on EU membership could be spent on the NHS. First, that £350m figure was disputed a long time ago, and yet continued to feature prominently on the Leave campaign, despite demands to remove it. And then Nigel Farage told ITV within hours of the Leave victory being rubber-stamped that it's not going to happen. That it's effectively a lie.

That's a new low for the political process in this country. First, you have the question of enforcement - why was the Leave campaign allowed to continue peddling the £350m figure even after it had been thoroughly discredited? And second, have you ever seen a government backtrack on a major election manifesto promise within hours of being elected?

For good measure we have a bonus too - that Nigel Farage is parading around like some kind of political establishment figure when the bald truth is that the only democratic mandate he has is as an MEP. He couldn't even get elected to the House of Commons and yet he continues to have disproportionate representation in the media.

The UK is now gripped in predictable economic and political turmoil, but most people don't care. An overwhelming majority of Leave voters were older than 50, many of whom can go to their graves thinking they've made Britain "great" again (deliberate use of the lower case "g") without having to see the full consequences of that decision. Of the working poor who voted Leave out of a misguided belief their problems are down to immigration and little else, they will no doubt be handed another piece of misdirection by politicians should the crows come home to roost as they appear to be doing. I wonder who will be next? Will it be another minority group, or will they go after the educated, or even anyone who dared to vote Remain?

The only hope I can see for the future of this country - one that is unlikely to come to pass - is if we demand that these new powers our politicians have secured for themselves come with significant strings attached. It won't happen, but it would be the only silver lining I can see on what is going to be a very black cloud. And my children have to grow up in this world.

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