And so, with the wearied, defeated and yet somehow inevitable sigh of the liberals, thus ends around sixty years’ worth of political dialogue. Barring an upset the likes of which British politics hasn’t seen since a certain porcine potentate told the entire Catholic religion to do one ‘coz he fancied another bird, today marks an historic day for the United Kingdom.
According to Brexiteers, this is not a day where we decide to listen to those who have studied the nature of our country for decades. Nor is it a day where we finally take stock of ourselves as a nation within a globalised economy and think about what that entails. It is not a day where we finally begin to understand that Britain is no longer an empire, but rather a middling-to-fair, services-based economy among the global echelons that understand our value but scoff at our self-importance…
Today is the day that we realise that we have the power to be the trend-setters.
(At this point, I imagine a solitary party-horn blowing in the distance – the sad, atonal rasp cutting against the sound of gale-force winds blowing through the few remaining leaves of the decimated, cigarette butt and plastic bag-infested forest we stand in.)
The trend that we are currently setting, as a major player in international politics (still, somehow), is that opinion, gut-instinct, suggestion and hyperbole are all more important factors than science, quantifiable data, the base standard of general economic study and, most importantly, fact.
Not a fact. Not any fact. Just fact.
Something, by definition, that is quantifiable, provable, and indisputable.
In truth, we realised this on the 23rd June, 2016, we just didn’t know it yet.
The moment that David Cameron (or rather, his snivelling, success-grabbing goblins that could begrudgingly be called advisors) called a referendum to decide the fate of the United Kingdom’s policy on EU membership was the moment that we were entirely, unilaterally, and unequivocally fuuuuucked.
The conversation around Brexit isn’t about what’s best for Britain anymore, but what people believe is what’s best for Britain. These are opinions that can never be fully accurate given the sheer scale of what Britain’s myriad international treaties and regulations define in terms of our status in the world. Brexit isn’t a debate, it’s a screaming competition, where we just believe that if we shout hard enough and louder than those around us, we will win.
Without going into too many of the distinct details, in my lifetime I have lived under the following governments:
- John Major, who had to deal with the repercussions of Thatcherism (although I was between the ages of 0 and 6 at the time, so didn’t really understand all that much);
- Tony Blair’s Third Way Labour, where he promised so much and yet delivered so little;
- Gordon Brown’s Labour Government that served without a mandate;
- David Cameron’s coalition, which destroyed the only electable centrist party;
- David Cameron’s majority, which gave us Brexit;
- And, finally, Theresa May’s All-You-Can-Eat buffet of Snooper’s Charter spying, Fuck-All-The-Immigrants, Fuck-All-The-Police (‘Even though I cut all their funding’), Fuck-The-NHS, and stupid fucking Brexit everyfuckingwhere.
Also the fundamentally racist Windrush wankshittery.
Our political system has been entirely caught out by the divisions in our country, brought glaringly into the limelight by David Cameron in 2016 through sheer arrogance and a desire to consolidate power. In my lifetime, trust in government has fallen to a catastrophically low level – just look at the governments above and tell me which one had any form of cohesion to it.
There was a time where I naively thought that Cameron brought a form of socially-liberal, ‘Small-C’ conservatism to our country when we needed it the most. Now, we don’t just need something new, our democracy cannot live without it.
We cannot suffer a political discourse where a rational person, who understands both the pros and cons of a globalised economy, can vote in favour of the out-and-out fascism that the ever-divided Conservative Party panders to more and more. The Conservative Party should be the party of pragmatism (or at least the party of considered opinion and rational policy), yet it finds itself split between out-of-touch politicians trying desperately to understand how to work Instagram and Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Dickensian orphanage patron who delights in the suffering of those born unto poor stock.
Nor can a rational person vote in favour of a single-nation socialist government, as an increasingly not-as-messianic-as-we-first-thought Jeremy Corbyn has positioned the Labour Party into as divided a position as the Conservative Party. Not only is Labour dealing with antisemitism, (see Rachel Riley’s Twitter feed if you dare) but the party as a whole is far too divided between left/centrist Blairites and nigh-on Marxist socialists. I wish there was a way for Utopianism to still be a realistic aim but, unfortunately, we are way, way too far gone into capitalism, whatever Owen Jones says.
The Liberal Democrats are dead in the water after the tuition fees scandal and will never realistically resuscitate themselves, the Green Party is, at best, a lobbyist group and UKIP can, to each and every one of their members, suck hard and true upon my anus.
I do not have a single party that I want to vote for, which is a fundamental systematic failure of our political system. I believe that many people feel the same way.
And yet this useless, merry-go-round government, a minority government at that, believes that taking us out of Europe is the answer, because 52% of a well-meaning but entirely uninformed public says they thought it was a good idea two years ago.
Whatever happens next, Brexit cannot be the answer. Britain no longer has dominance on the world stage, other than soft-power. We have the ability to be the awkward, confusing and obtrusive partner that an arrogant EU needs. We are the one nation that is still somehow proud of its empire but also willing to teach the lessons we have learned from something so far reaching and yet, to so many, so terrible. We are the nation that the free countries of the world rallied to during the final World War, emerging victorious through international cooperation and alliance.
Yet we are turning our back on this.
To follow through on Brexit, especially as it is defined by this compromised deal from a government that couldn’t negotiate a straight road without crashing into a blazing fireball of ineptitude, would be to deny what Britain is – an awkward wanker of a nation that Europe loves to hate, but Europe needs.