We Must Give Brexit Back to the People.
With a government in deadlock and a nation polarized at the core, it’s the only endgame we’ve got.
Most British people will remember well the morning of the 24th June 2016. After a long period of fierce campaigning, the people of the United Kingdom had voted and the results were in. Over fifty-one percent of the country had voted to leave the European Union. People stared at their televisions in disbelief, even the majority of leave voters never actually expected the vote to go in their favour. Prominent leave campaigners held a media fanfare celebrating the start of our journey towards being a rich and booming independent nation free of the shackles of our European neighbours, from this day forth things would be better and Britain would soar to new heights.
Fast forward two years and it’s a very different picture. Gone is the man that threw the initial snowball down the mountain. There are no more slogans on buses. The fanfare has been dismantled. The baseless promises that countries will be lining up to do trade deals and we would be catapulted into a new world of endless prosperity are slowly eroding away to reveal the dark and troubling truth of what our future really holds.
What started out as a jubilant rally to unite the country in the euphoric rhetoric of how much better the world will be post-brexit has slowly morphed into a determined mantra telling us daily that we will somehow survive. Thrive has become survive and the politicians at the wheel continue to justify marching onward on this self-destructive gravy train as obeying the will of the people.
To understand the will of the people you need to look beyond the tick box on a voting card that asked a question impossible to answer. The will of the people was to enjoy the fruits of the endless promises that were made to them in the months leading up to the referendum, that was what they voted for.
Few could argue that the true will of the people was to commit themselves to a course of action that would lead the country into a prolonged period of instability far more profound than many predicted and to leap naked and exposed into the world with no memberships or trade agreements. Some will argue against that statement. I’ve talked with hard line Brexiteers who passionately still cling to the “no deal is better than a bad deal” slug and insist that people voted to leave no matter the consequences. Who really knows what the nation was thinking two years ago, and what the nation thinks now? Surely that alone is cause for pause and consultation before we irreversibly unstitch forty years of history.
When we reflect back now on the referendum and the calamitous roadshow that has played out since, it’s clear that we have all embarked on an enlightening and sometimes frightening journey of discovery over the past two years. Who was talking about the Irish border two years ago? Who was talking about falling back on WTO rules? How many people had even heard of WTO rules until this year? Who was thinking about trade tariffs, research, defence and passporting rights? These are the the issues that we should have been debating long before holding a referendum, but they were drowned out by the campaign fog of empty promises and charismatic speeches envisioning a Utopian future with no plan on how to achieve it.
We are now staring down the barrel of the gun looking at a no deal “Hard Brexit” as the most likely outcome of this long circus act as the country braces itself for a disorderly crash out of the European Union with no deal and no plan. Business leaders in all walks of industry from logistics, automotive and aerospace to import and export warn of perils far beyond a few bumps in the road. When you pull back the curtain and examine the impact on each of these industries and think through the domino effect this will have on all areas of the British economy, it reveals a worryingly bleak picture of what we can expect to wake up to in April next year.
Brexit hardliners brush off these facts preferring to wrap themselves in a blanket of sound bites promising them that if they just close their eyes to the hard facts and firmly believe in the unknown that they will find their magic unicorn and prove wrong all the naysayers.
With an issue this divisive, an issue this permanent with consequences that could reverberate for generations to come, surely it is essential now more than ever to ensure that we respect the democracy and sovereignty that so many people believe they are protecting by voting for Brexit by giving the people a true voice. To give the people a voice unhindered by political grandstanding and ignorance. Surely this is what Brexit is all about, getting our country back and taking control of our own destiny as a united, independent nation.
We now sit on the brink of plunging irreversibly into an abyss that few saw coming. Our parliament is in deadlock over the next steps with the leader of the country flailing in the wind trying desperately to hold together the fabric of her own government. The people of the United Kingdom are more polarized by current politics than at any time in living memory.
What the country desperately needs right now it unity, which has been shattered in the past two years across the whole spectrum of society. Unity of government, unity of the populous. The only way to deliver any form of unity at this point is to lay it all bare, warts and all, and give it back to the people. We need to put the people back at the wheel and give them the opportunity to put the brakes on before we reach the cliff edge. It’s the only endgame we’ve got now.
But we need to do it right this time. It’s time to end the sound bites, the slogans and the dreams and start looking at the cold hard facts of Brexit. Let’s have a real debate, about real facts. Let’s vote on something that has meaning, a choice between two well thought out plans, not something based on unfounded belief and false promises. If at the end of that the population of the country still vote to push on with this endeavor then so be it…
…I will stick Tom Petty on the radio, buckle up and drive over the cliff with you.