Tag Archives: eu

’twas the night before Brexit

 

I feel like I should write something to commemorate Brexit Eve, but honestly I feel like everything I want to say has already been said. Three-and-a-half years ago I wrote on this blog why, despite a deep Euroscepticism, I believed people should vote Remain. Then, after the referendum, I encouraged people to get on with making Brexit a success—which, to me, meant fighting for a fair, progressive, leftwing Brexit.

2016 was a long time ago. I’ve since lost my Euroscepticism and become, if not an enthusiastic at least a pragmatic Europhile. Some may say that I’ve given into tribalism, but I’ve come by my feelings on globalization and international cooperation honestly, having seen not just Britain but the world double down on isolation and nativism. From America to Brazil to Austria to the Philippines, the far right is ascendant and seeks to dismantle the internationalism of the last quarter-century. It makes me sad.

I keep thinking about the people who will be celebrating tomorrow. In some ways I can’t begrudge them. Many Brexiteers have wanted this for a long time, working to take Britain out of Europe for years or decades. For them it’s the moment they have been waiting for, a culmination of all their work and the fulfillment of their deepest political desire. Still, given how divided the country is, the raucous celebrations being planned and the celebratory tea towels with Boris Johnson’s smug and utterly punchable face screen-pressed onto them seem crass, at best. A little magnanimity from the Brexiteers would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath; “conciliation” is not one of their traits. Indeed, it is a vice rather than a virtue to most of them.

Then I remember the children who will grow up British but not European. The teenagers who feel as though their future has been robbed from them. The #FBPE Twitterati who genuinely believe the European Union is the key to all future success and that, outside of it, Britain will be but a shell of its former self—a has-been among nations, the senile old uncle to whom no one ever writes but still somehow winds up at Christmas dinner, at least. Anyone who has ever experienced electoral loss can sympathize with them.

For the dyed-in-the-wool true believers, though, it’s even more painful than an election defeat. Boris Johnson might be Prime Minister now, but within five years we’ll have a chance to put him out. Brexit is a once-in-a-generation, if not lifetime, event. What’s done is done. It’s like a Panem reaping: your name has been drawn; you can’t go back. It’s well and truly over—may the odds be ever in your favour.

For what it’s worth, I doubt the worst will come to pass. It seldom does. Whatever the consequences of this foolish retreat into itself, Britain is still one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. That isn’t going to stop being true anytime soon. There will be hiccups, no doubt – I wouldn’t want to be in Dover next month, and God be with us if the prosecco runs out – but it’s hardly the war. You’ll still have bread, and electricity, and bombs won’t be falling on your house. Low bar, I realise, but I’m grasping at straws.

I don’t know what comes next. What do the Remainers put their energies towards now that overturning the referendum is impossible? It will be interesting to see. One thing I hope is that we can move forward. For four years Brexit has dominated the national conversation. You couldn’t turn on Question Time without at least half the conversation being dominated by Brexit. The other half was dominated by racists, and often the two overlapped. Not always a correlation, but rarely a coincidence. There are pressing issues facing the nation, though. Maybe they can get addressed now. Maybe.

My heart goes out to those who are sad, or angry, or bitter, or alternately or simultaneously all three. It’s a tough pill to swallow. If the medicine shortages come to pass, it could also be your last pill to swallow. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. As I said, probably won’t.

To those who are happy, those who wanted Brexit more than they wanted anything—even more than they wanted an all-white royal family—I wish you well as you celebrate getting both. Truly. And I’m sorry for that dig just there. It’s unfair. Not unwarranted, but unfair. Not all of you are foaming-at-the-mouth racists. Just a lot of you. But seriously, party to your heart’s content and your liver’s capacity. Just remember for every verse of “Land of Hope and Glory” you sing one of your compatriots listening to “Ode to Joy” and quietly weeping. You can leave the European Union, but you have to take them with you.

Skylar Baker-Jordan has been writing about UK and US politics for more than a decade. His work as appeared at The Independent, Salon, Huff Post UK, and elsewhere. He lives in Tennessee. Follow him on Twitter or become a supporter by contributing to his Patreon account.

I’m a Brexiter at heart. Vote Remain.

I hate the European Union. It is a bloated corporatist quango run by technocrats none of us have ever heard of who seem to have an utter contempt for the British people and, well, democracy. EU leaders seem committed to further integration and a United States of Europe, except without the republican values of the United States of America. The Eurozone is floundering, the Schengen border area is broken, and—rightly or wrongly—the British people are fed up with the free flow of European migrants into the UK, unable to control who comes into the country or adopt what many, myself included, feel is a fairer immigration system.

As an American, I don’t have a vote in tomorrow’s referendum. As someone trying to immigrate to the UK from outside the EU, a Brexit would, ostensibly, be in my best interests. As a Eurosceptic, I believe it could also be in Britain’s best interests. But if I did have a vote tomorrow, I would vote for Britain to remain in the European Union.

I would vote Remain not out of some love for the European project, or some starry-eyed internationalism. I would vote Remain because the Leave campaign has not done a successful job of demonstrating just what a Britain outside the EU would look like, how it would cope and succeed.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly think Britain could be not only fine, but prosperous, outside the European Union. But “could” does not mean “will”. The Leave campaign likes to say that anyone voting Remain denigrates Britain, that they don’t believe in or trust the ingenuity and tenacity of the British people. Bollocks. I have no doubts Britain could succeed outside the EU. But no country can succeed without a plan, and nobody in the Leave campaign has been able to articulate one short of “everything the experts tell you is a lie.”

Was President Obama lying, when he warned Britain will go to the back of the queue for trade deals. UKIP’s Diane James, on last night’s BBC Debate, said she didn’t care what Obama thought, but wanted to know what Clinton and Trump think. Clinton also supports the In campaign, while Trump is for Brexit, which speaks volumes about the tone and tenor of this referendum. And what about with the EU itself? Is Angela Merkel lying when she says that Britain “will never get a really good result in negotiations?”

The EU could make an example out of Britain for fear that treating it too kindly post-Brexit could inspire other nations to go their own way. And maybe that would be okay, if only someone in the Leave campaign could articulate exactly how they plan on handling that and preventing total economic catastrophe. But they haven’t. Instead of policy, the Leave campaign has offered platitudes about how great the British people are (and you are, you really are) and how everything will be a-okay because we will it to be (it won’t, it really won’t).  When both the Bank of England and the TUC are warning that Brexit will depress wages and probably lead to recession, we should listen.

Instead Michael Gove compares them to Nazi scientists. This is one of the Leave campaigns favourite motifs, the EU as Hitler’s heir. It’s almost laughably ironic, considering how overtly and covertly racist the Leave campaign has been. The bulk of the Leave campaign has focused on xenophobic rhetoric about European migrants coming to steal British jobs and take British homes and depress British wages. This entire campaign has been made about immigration, and it has been framed in the most disgustingly racist way possible. Like Johnson’s comments about America’s “part-Kenyan” president, or Farage’s “Breaking Point” poster. It’s the anti-Muslim retweets of the Leave campaign, the dehumanising language used to describe refugees. I can’t co-sign on any of this.

If another referendum were to present itself, one not premised on far-right racism and jingoistic fervour, perhaps I’d go another way. And maybe, someday, it will. But David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn, Ruth Davidson, and Sadiq Kahn have all said, which is that Brexit is a one-way ticket. Once the UK leaves, there is no going back to the European Union. At least not without adopting Schengen and the Euro, which most of agree is no in Britain’s national interest. Britain could always vote to leave in another 40 years, but it can’t come back on such cushy terms.

There are a myriad of other issues at play here too, issues I’ve not touched on but have swayed my hypothetical vote. What happens to the border in Northern Ireland? Will the SNP demand—and get—another referendum? How will we protect the hard-won rights the EU and ancillary bodies have guaranteed? These all need to be answered, and the Leave campaign hasn’t.

I’m not prepared to gamble with the livelihoods of the British people or the stability of the country out of some nationalistic desire to reclaim sovereignty. I desperately want Britain to Leave the EU, but the Leave campaign hasn’t presented a viable alternative. You don’t leave home without knowing where you’re going, and Britain shouldn’t leave the EU without knowing what it’s going to do next.

Instead of presenting a cogent, coherent exit strategy, the Leave campaign played to the basest instincts of the electorate and stirred up a jingoistic, xenophobic atmosphere. Because of this, I don’t know what Britain would look like outside the European Union, but I can’t honestly say I think it’s a Britain I would like. So, reluctantly, I ask you to vote Remain.

(Sorry, Alex.)