When an event has such a profound influence on your life, you need to try and understand how it came about.
So why did the English (as it was mainly the English, as we know) vote for Brexit
In the weeks and months after the referendum there were countless articles, documentaries, discussions and analyses on the matter. Everyone agreed, that one contributory factor was that half truths, wrong promises even outright lies had an impact (and both sides lied, let’s be honest. Statistics were rigged, promises and fears exaggerated)
But if that was the only reason, then polls should now show a massive win for Remain.
Well, they don’t…
Latest polls (Sept ’17) show 52% remain, roughly the same as before the referendum.
(And the left wing press celebrate that like a victory. Why? )
So if it is actually not about money for the NHS or immigration or taking back control, what is Brexit about?
Every attempt to break the reasons down to one single cause must fail of course.
But I feel there is one thing that is frequently overlooked when discussing the matter:
When I walked the other day with thousands of anti Brexit protesters through the streets of London, we came past a Wetherspoons pub. There were about 5 guys and a woman outside, draped in England and UK flags and probably well beyond their 3rd pint.
They clearly had fun watching us coming past. They sang anti EU chants, and tried unsuccessfully to provoke some protesters, possibly to get a fight with more than words.
And I wondered, why should these people ever vote for the EU?
What were our arguments during the campaign (and now)?
We are allowed to work anywhere in the EU, we can study anywhere in the EU, we can easily travel and discover other cultures and people, we have had peace in Europe for longer than at any time in modern history and membership was demonstrably good for our economy.
Well, to be honest, I doubt that these advantages are seen by them. I obviously don’t know any of them personally, but I suspect, that they haven’t studied elsewhere in the EU or speak many languages, they might know other cultures only from TV, the economic upturn might have never reached them (or if it has, they might have never associated that with the EU. Especially not if they read the Daily Mail). And peace? Peace becomes somewhat abstract if you don’t know war I guess. (but that is a different matter)
I read frequently in Brexit forums that people now had the chance to take away from “the elite” their EU gravy train toy; that undemocratic club that let the privileged further line their pockets while the man on the Clapham omnibus was left to feed off their crumbs.
And you know what: I can understand that!
And I can also understand that therefore it won’t change your opinion on Brexit when you see statistics that tell you, that Brexit is bad for the economy.
And I can also understand that nothing therefore changes when you see statistics (whether accurate or ‘alternative facts’) that reinforce that belief; that tell you, that Brexit is bad for the economy and that you could be better off freed from the shackles of European control.
When you have financial problems of your own anyway, you probably don’t care that some banker in London might lose out on even more money, while there is a pay cap on nurses. (Don’t get me wrong. This is not what I think personally. But when I read those arguments I can sympathise with it)
And this is the point where I stand with the Brexiteers
If we can’t make the advantages of the EU work for them, and crucially, be perceived to work for them too, then there is frankly hardly any point in it.
I will of course keep fighting for the EU, but I refuse to join in when I hear, that the Brexit vote is all about immigration or Brexiteers are all racists.
It is about alienation, inequality of opportunity, a failure of communication and so many things besides.
I think, we have yet to discvover, that we are actually on the same side.