It’s now 3 years since the country voted to exit the European Union. Two Prime Ministers – and counting – and we still inhabit the Brexit wasteland. Remaining in, but endlessly sat in the departure lounge.
And what of the two sides?
There seems to be no coming together of the Remain and Leave side of the Brexit argument. In fact, most people, and this is only anecdotal, have simply dug their heels in. They are either Remain (not Remain and Evolve) or Leave (at all costs).
No fan of Theresa May, I think we can all agree she wrecked any chance of a Brexit compromise with her Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union. (Did you read all 500+ pages of the agreement? No? Neither did I!) She satisfied neither side of the Brexit divide. Her whole Premiership will be seen by historians as a complete and utter failure to bring Parliament together.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Leader, seen by many as a Remainer, although I don’t know why, has completely failed to take his party with him on Brexit as well. His policy of constructive ambiguity, whatever that was, has seen the Fourth Estate portray him sitting on a splintered fence leaning towards Remain. I’ve never seen it that way. In all circumstances, Corbyn has re-iterated that the result of the referendum should be honoured. How can that be a Remain position? I ask myself. Where people get confused, and right-wing pundits shout it from the rooftops, is that he doesn’t advocate a Tory Brexit. And to them, that equals Remain. They somehow miss the point that he continually says he will negotiate a better deal if he becomes Prime Minister. Those are not the words of a Remainer. However, he will support a second referendum on what he sees as a bad deal put forward by any Tory government. But that does not make him a supporter of Remain.
Common ground in politics has been burnt at the Brexit stake.
Alternatively, we have Farage shouting down BBC microphone’s at every opportunity like some demented Shakespearean tragi-character threatening the wrath of the people if he doesn’t get the Brexit HE wants. Every time the megaphone agitator appears on TV I can’t help thinking, ‘O for another series of classic Spitting Image’. I suspect he’d be sat in Trumps breast pocket while in the other would be ‘Mop-Top’ Johnson, the likely new Tory leader and PM.
And on the other side of the Brexit chasm we have the Liberal Democrats – Conservatives-Lite in another dictionary – fighting for the pro-Remain votes with the Green Party led, inexplicably, by two people. Not forgetting the SNP up there in Scotland. Agitating for an IndyRef2 if they don’t get a People’s Vote to Remain.
Whilst here at APGrozdanovic I try to impartial, it is sometimes hard to pull off that particular trick, of arguing for both sides in such a divisive matter. But here goes, I have readers of all persuasions…
It’s high time for radical thinking.
The country needs our political representatives to speak for us and act in our best interests. Not for their own narrow interest group within a party.
Brexit voters conveniently forget what we were promised during and after the ballot. Note the ambiguity of the £350m we could spend on our NHS emblazoned over a big red bus. John Redwood saying on 17 July 2016, that ‘Getting out of the EU can be quick and easy.’ Or Michael Gove pronouncing on the 1 June 2016 that, ‘We can easily conclude a new settlement with the EU…’These and other things have been proved to be pie-in-the-sky.
On the Remain side, although they lost the referendum, I still don’t think they are putting the case forward well enough for people to re-imagine a world where a new ballot can relieve citizen’s doubts about the EU and the advantages of staying in. The political soundbite ‘Project Fear’ still resonates, no matter how many reports show Brexit impacting on the economy and jobs. For their argument to prevail, they have to step up to the plate and explain better the reason for staying.
In my fictional book, Stalag Britain, about a Brexit that goes catastrophically wrong, I wrote about job losses in various areas and shortages in the health service. Governments failing. This wasn’t hard for me to envision and include in my story, so why is it so difficult for others?
I think the time has come to think beyond Brexiteers & Remainers. It’s now an opportunity for a new Prime Minister to be radical. And I don’t mean to raise the flag for one side or the other. Whether it be, ‘Mop-Top’ Johnson or Entrepreneur Hunt who becomes the next PM, they have to jettison the idea of Brexit on 31 October, pause Article 50, and form a government of national unity. One where people of all sides of the political spectrum, including voters, can work out where we want to go as a country. That may end up in Brexit. It may not. But at least we will have clarity on the road we are travelling. We have to remember that the future is not ours, it’s our children’s and grandchildren’s. It’s our duty to leave them a prosperous future of opportunity where doors are open in friendship and not closed because we cut our nose off to spite our face.
I raise a glass in Hope…