Brexit Madness

Sick of being attached to a tree, a man decides to take back control of his branch.

Sick of being attached to a tree, a man decides to take back control of his branch.

Sad, angry and fearful for the future of the UK and for Europe. That is how I felt when I woke up on Friday morning to the news that the Leave campaign had won the Brexit referendum. The sadness and the fear remain but, somewhat to my surprise, my feeling of anger has only grown over the last 24 hours. I’ve never posted anything political here before, but I am so angry that I feel I need to speak out.

How did we get here? The root of the problem is the deep divisions about Europe in the Conservative Party. The party has been held together by a series of leaders who managed to paper over the cracks. The rise of UKIP made this more and more difficult. Prior to the last election, David Cameron made a disasterous short term political decision to offer a referendum to the Eurosceptics in his party. He had tried the same trick over Scotland and that almost ended in disaster (indeed it still may). Whether he thought he would be saved by the Liberals, or was confident he would win the referendum is hard to say. Whatever the case, it was a stunning case of gambling the future of the country for short term political expediency. Well, the gamble has failed. He has ended his own career and possibly also destroyed his party. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that the destruction of the Conservative Party as we know it is what needs to happen next if we are to avoid Cameron’s reckless gamble destroying the country too.

I know people will say that the people of the UK have spoken and we must respect their decision and leave the EU. But this was never an issue that should have been decided by a referendum with a simple yes/no answer. Everybody had a good idea about what voting Remain would mean. Nobody knew what a vote for Leave would actually mean. For some, it would be more money for the NHS. For others, it would be reductions in immigration. For many, it was a desire for the UK to “take back control” – people were fed up with being “told what do by faceless, unelected eurocrats”. OK, these are all valid and legitimate goals. But the simple truth is that there isn’t any chance these are all going to happen. Unlike after a General Election, there isn’t a leader or party that can be held to account to deliver on the promises made during the campaign. There has never been an overall plan of action set out by the Leave campaign. It has no overall leader with a complete vision of where to take the country. Instead we have single issue politicians like Farage and political opportunists like Boris who will say whatever he thinks will get himself into number 10. Whether you agree with Farage on his single issue or not, anyone who would trust the future of the country to him needs their head examining.

So what should happen now? Whatever happens, we should have a General Election before anything is done to enact leaving the EU. Let us see who would be Prime Minister and have a chance to vote for them. Let us hear the whole plan of the party or parties that want to go ahead and leave the EU. The implications of leaving are so significant and intertwined with other issues that it can’t be just “grafted on” as an optional extra. You can’t just choose your party of government and then add or subtract EU membership to taste.

The second thing that needs to happen is the breakup of the Conservative Party. I have voted for them in every election, so I say this with great sadness. But the truth is that what we now need is a proper centrist party to vote for, free of both left and right wing extremists. In 1981, the ‘Gang of Four’ broke away from the Labour Party to form a new centrist political party, the SDP. Sadly, this came to nothing in the end. But 35 years later, it is time to try again, this time starting with a break away group of pro EU Conservative MPs. Perhaps the current political crisis and the disarray in the Labour Party under Corbyn even makes it possible for them to be joined by a break away group of moderate Labour MPs. Now that would be a party I would vote for and I think would give the country an option which might beat “none of the above” as the party of choice.

7 thoughts on “Brexit Madness

  1. Hi Robert, the Labour Party is in disarray – and the Conservatives have gone brexit mad.

    How close are the Liberal Democrats to a pro-EU centrist party?

    Stewart

  2. Thank you, couldn’t agree more. I know a few folk who’ve joined the Lib Dems in the last few days, for just the reasons descibed. As a long-term non-Tory, I haven’t forgiven them for the coalition debacle yet, but I guess I could – but given their drubbing at the last election, I doubt their ability to deliver sufficient critical mass. I think your suggestion is interesting and eminently supportable. Do you think Boris (or whoever) would hold out for long before calling another General Election?

  3. By the way, I love Marcus’s competition-winning caption. What was his prize?

  4. Hi Robert et al. I totally agree with you in all respects and was so glad to read this. I am going to be campaigning and supporting those who seek to keep us in the EU, or at least minimize the losses of leaving. I thought this article, about the democratic deficit of the referendum, is pretty helpful in providing arguments to conquer the ‘it’s the spoken will of the people, so move on’ type of comment: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/brexit-democratic-failure-for-uk-by-kenneth-rogoff-2016-06

    I believe that the will of the people is far from settled on this, indeed, the people are deeply confused as you point out. So anyway, I don’t believe it’s over. Just crucial not to trigger Article 50 and to keep hoping for a GE… Keep us updated on your thoughts.

  5. Hi Simon. Yes, I joined the Lib Dems too a couple of days ago. Seems to be the best hope we have now. Marcus got social media exposure as his prize! (quite a few retweets).

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