Saturday, 1 February 2020

Exit Brexit

Brexit comes at last
 Well, finally it's done. After all the debates and arguments, the procrastination, the negativity, the failure of imagination and lack of nerve, Britain has gathered her skirts and stepped boldly into her unknown future as an independent nation once again. The public spoke in 2016 with the referendum; and they spoke even more loudly with the European elections when so many Brexit MEPs were voted in. Then finally – because Europe, the establishment, parliament, the courts and much of the public services were not listening – we shouted so loudly in December that the world had to listen, if not hear. We wanted out - and huge numbers of us were prepared to vote for a right-wing, conservative party that promised to do just that.

Although I initially had some sympathy for the European project, and the ideal of a united nations of Europe, in practice it was trying to ignore centuries of differing opinions, traditions and customs by making individual nations into one homogenous bloc in some idealised image of a one nation state. This was never going to work well, and popularist cracks began to appear in the edifice of which Brexit is now the potent symbol. Everyone who voted for Brexit will have had their own reasons. My own attitudes swung towards it with Project Fear. Never had I heard such blatent propaganda to try to swing public opinion. This was no rational debate, and the more alarmist the statements, the more I rebelled against them. I simply could not see how they could all be true, with events predicted to be so dire that it was as though we would enter a nuclear apocalypse.

Finally, with a majority of our representatives constantly bickering and blocking any progress towards what so many in the country clearly wanted, I –like so many of my countrymen – yearned for a strong government again that could get things done. Like so many of us, my cross went to the Tories who, for all their faults, were talking sense. Indeed, when compared with the slogans of the Remainers with their "Bollocks to Brexit", even Jeremy Corbyn was talking sense, though of a somewhat uncommitted sort.
A large police presence, but a ruly crowd

So, last night, 31st January 2020, saw Ann and I join tens of thousands of others in Parliament Square to mark and celebrate an historic moment in Britain's history. The event was marked by a massive police presence - with innumerable police cars and vans, sirens, and a phalanx of mounted police. Yet the whole event was good-natured and peaceful with exuberance rather than drunkenness. Despite the BBC's efforts to portray Remainers as a potent presence, we saw no more than half a dozen, huddled together next to Downing Street, barricaded off from the vast crowds pouring past them down Whitehall who mostly ignored them, and certainly had no wish to fight them in this moment of victory.
Many young people
waving flags

Another lie propagated by the press was that the crowd was mostly older white people. Certainly, Ann and I were in that category, but the vast majority of that crowd was young, with a good smattering of non-whites amongst us. What was evident, however, was an overwhelming spirit of patriotism, a sense of a love of Britain and her heritage, like the Last Night of the Proms, with much flag waving, wearing of Union Flag costumes, and singing. Like it or hate it, that is a potent force that clearly underlay much of the Brexit movement. Politicians in the future will ignore it at their peril.
Brexit party London
It was like a New Year's party
filled with young hopeful people
many voices in foreign languages
many mixed nation's faces
the soft shaking hands
in a calm comradeship
and sweetening of spirit
burying the bitterness
the acrimonious argument
above all
was a feeling of relief
the civil war was done
but who had really won?

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