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A year has gone by since the referendum on the country’s membership of the European Union. It seems, however, that we are no closer to having any clue as to what lies ahead. Yes, Article 50 has been triggered but since then we have had the snap election. It was an election called by the Prime Minister to increase a Conservative majority but which has had the opposite outcome. Those who advocated Brexit continue to play out the debate with a consensus on whether we should have a hard, soft or ‘hard boiled’ Brexit far from clear. A scrambled Brexit could be a better description. Was the whole leave campaign just a political coup with no plan and only sound bites?

Many things were either not thought out or plainly lied about before June 2016. Politicians have a history of dishonesty but this was such a huge change. As we all now know, there is no extra £350 million a week for the NHS and no sign that Turkey will be joining the union. The leaders of the campaign ran and hid away not wishing to take advantage of their win. Farage, Johnson and others just share short phrases which regurgitate the same ideas over and over. The successful case was also brought against Theresa May for having the prerogative to press the Article 50 button alone. This led to the parliamentary vote before the date of Article 50 was even being considered. Brexit Secretary David Davis also started the EU negotiations on Monday basically agreeing to everything put before him. This goes against the “row of the summer” described by Davis previously.

Is the Queen herself a secret Remainer? Many think so after the speech at the opening of parliament. The choice of blue dress and hat with yellow flowers could have been a coincidence but did resemble a flag of blue and yellow stars. As MP’s began debating this speech, May herself said the country is split “between red and blue, young and old, and Leave and Remain”. This is counter to her previous statement of “the country is coming together but parliament is not”. Parliament’s challenge may be to heal these divisions rather than reflect them but is that actually possible?

The country is still divided but times have been hard with a continued austerity plan from the government and the drop in the value of the pound over the last year. As uncertainty continues to grow about the UK’s place in Europe and the world, one might well wonder if leaving was what the country actually wanted? There was a vote on paper but so many conflicting views on how it could be achieved. Like in the US with President Trump, it could have been a vote against the establishment with the EU taking the blame. The anger at feeling left behind and ignored will not evaporate after leaving the bloc of 27 other member states. This may increase as the real costs become apparent: trade of goods, the ability to travel freely, and keeping London as the economic hub of the world are all things we take for granted. The issues surrounding Scotland and Northern Ireland are still concerning. Change is definitely afoot. It is questionable if that change is the one offering the greatest consensus.

The “will of the people” on one single day in June surely shouldn’t be considered the end of the debate. The result was close and public opinion is notoriously fickle. Rather than feel like we have got “our country back”, we have exposed the real divisions that lie under the surface. It is a division that should have been challenged from within with proper policy and ideas. Far from gaining “independence”, we now have more of a mess than we had a year ago.


7 Comments on "Taking back the 23rd June"

  1. A useful summary of how many of us feel

  2. I read somewhere, or perhaps it was said on TV. 84% of people voted for Tory or Labour in the last election. Unlike some previous elections, it was a return to big two party politics and a move away from fringe party growth.

    84% of people thus voted for two parties who clearly stated they were brexit.

    I’m sorry. Its game over from the democratic stand point for staying in the EU. The hand wringing, yes. The worries, the negotiation, the plausable economic cost in the shorter term, yes yes yes. Understood.

    Other votes too show a global move in this view. The people who have a different view have every right to express their views, yes, to worry. To know it comes with a price. But the day where that view is the prevailing one, or the one that matters is over. Its done. Even if Labour rolled in after a May collapse, its still brexit.

    There are very deep divisions. But not on the EU or Brexit. No. Not by measureable means.

    Very few people turned up for the Liberal Party. Done. Put a fork in it.

    • Thank you for the interesting comments there. Apologies for late reply. I don’t see that things have moved on and is now game over or I wouldn’t have written the article. 84% of voters may have supported Labour and the Conservatives but they would have voted for many reasons. 52% of voters last year had the same reasoning, as I’m sure they all didn’t want out of the single market or to close the borders the next day.

  3. And as we all know there was no emergency budget within weeks to raise taxes and cut spending. No recession by the end of the year. David Cameron didn’t stay on to lead us through the process of leaving. Unemployment did not rise to 6.5%, it fell to 4.8%. The stock market, far from crashing has put on 20%. In short, for every lie that spewed forth from the lips of leave, an equally outrageous lie was uttered by remain. As a leave voter I fully accept that the leave campaign lied, but I am yet to find a remain voter who will accept the same with any grace.

    Every single vote is a test of public opinion on any given day, there is no sign that people who voted leave last year have changed their mind in the slightest. Indeed as the worst predictions of project fear have thus far failed to materialise we are left with a population who by a large majority now just want to get on with leaving the EU. Remember, the LibDems offered another referendum, they got 2.4 million votes standing on that platform as opposed to 26.5 million votes for parties committed to leaving the EU.

    We are in a mess politically, our politicians are hopeless and unlikely to strike a good deal and it is unbelievable that Cameron could call a referendum without drawing up plans for what would happen if we voted leave. That though is besides the point, people have voted to leave, so leave we must. If we had seen a huge spike for the SNP, Greens and LibDems at the election then you might have a point, but we didn’t. There is a higher principle at stake here, well above whether it is prudent to leave the EU, which is that the majority will of any electorate should be carried through, no matter whether large or small or whether it be damaging or not. Once we start tinkering with that principle we are on a fast track back to serfdom I’m afraid.

    • Thank you for the well written comments there, and apologies for my late reply. It seems we do agree on some areas and understand your concerns. I disagree about the lies you mention. Mainly because of two facts that we haven’t left yet so the predictions haven’t come to pass, and the pound has decreased in value due to the uncertainty of what could lie ahead. If Leaving the EU we must then I believe we will be worse of, and the country will want back in as soon as possible.

      • Thanks for the comeback Dan. My answer turned into a lunchtime essay once I got going it became a whirlwind of key presses, didn’t mean it to be so long. It won’t change your mind so I probably shouldn’t have bothered repeating what was essentially position before June 23rd 2016.

        I picked the predictions I did specifically because they were for the period falling no more than one year after the referendum, rather than the period after leaving the EU or triggering article 50. Therefore I can say with certainty that those predictions/statements have not come to pass. I purposely didn’t mention sterling, though it’s fall has been a mixed blessing of sorts, it has driven economic growth while pushing up inflation which should bottom out in 6 months. You won’t find many people who didn’t think the currency was heavily overvalued pre referendum though.

        If you treat leaving the EU on purely economic terms, then you may have a case for it being the wrong thing to do, we will have to see. I don’t treat it on those terms though, for me it is about accountability and who makes the laws that govern your life, do you elect them and can you remove them. It seems odd to me, that often the very people in the UK who call for more devolution to the regions and decentralisation of power are happy to hand ever more power to an unelected centralised institution in Brussels. Eventually if things carried on as they have over the past forty years then the UK government would have no powers left to devolve.

        When I was around your age at the time of the Maastricht treaty I was very pro-EEC/EC, I used to listen to the Tory Eurosceptics warning about a European superstate and think they were scaremongering xenophobes. Yet 25 years later much of what they warned about has come to pass and it would be foolish in the extreme for me to think that the move to ever closer integration was about to stop. Indeed just this month there were directives put down calling for integration of military procurement, this is a necessary precursor if you desire a unified army with standardized equipment. There is now an EU defence fund and an EU military HQ. Yet for years we have had soothing words about there being no plans for an EU army.
        This is I think why there is such a gap between old and young on the issue of the EU, older voters have seen how the project has grown way beyond what they envisaged or were told would be the case. Or perhaps it is the case that younger people genuinely don’t really feel as “British” as they do “European” I don’t know.

        In a 1974 letter to his constituents Tony Benn said the following:

        “Britain’s continuing membership of the Community would mean the end of Britain as a completely self-governing nation and the end of our democratically elected Parliament as the supreme law making body in the United Kingdom”

        That view was mocked at the time, and ignored in the referendum. Fast forward to present day and we now know that he was spot on with that prediction.

        To quote Benn again speaking in the commons on Maastricht in 1991:

        “If democracy is destroyed in Britain it will be not the communists, Trotskyists or subversives but this House which threw it away. The rights that are entrusted to us are not for us to give away. Even if I agree with everything that is proposed, I cannot hand away powers lent to me for five years by the people of Chesterfield. I just could not do it. It would be theft of public rights.”

        And finally this quote from him from the commons in 1988:

        “The House will forgive me for quoting five democratic questions that I have developed during my life. If one meets a powerful person–Rupert Murdoch, perhaps, or Joe Stalin or Hitler–one can ask five questions: what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system.”

        How do we the people of the UK get rid of Jean Claude Juncker?, for that matter how do the people of Europe get rid of Jean Claude Juncker?. They can’t, despite him being the man in charge of the body which decides the direction the EU takes, which puts forward the directives we all have to live under. When the elected government of the 2nd most populous nation in the union (it’s 2nd largest net contributor) objected to his appointment, what?, a compromise candidate was offered perhaps? no of course not. JCJ became president over the objections of the UK government. That was the level of influence we had within the EU prior to the referendum.

        At some point the EU will become a nation, it is almost inevitable, I don’t want to be part of that nation. There are many great things about continental Europe, they do many things better there than we do in the UK. They also use CS gas to break up protests, require their people to carry ID cards, routinely arm their police and are increasingly curtailing the freedom of muslim women to wear what they want. They are as different to us as they are similar. I just don’t understand why it is necessary t o have anything more than a profitable amicable trading relationship with our European cousins, it is after all supposedly the trade part that makes us better off.

        • I appreciate the reply Rob, and your welcome to share as much as you feel. I will always listen to other views.

          I know did mainly focus on the economic argument in my reply but do feel the EU has other positives including freedom to travel and sense of being part of something bigger. Another worry I have is would this be more difficult, and would we see longer queues at airports? Also would the M20 turn into a lorry park on an almost daily basis?

          I can see and understand your arguments about bureaucracy and becoming a big nation. Although with the recent vote in France, and stories of individuals in many countries across the continent having reservations. I can see the people wanting the accountability as we have now or previously while being within the bloc and would vote against such a super state.

          As we vote in MEP’S and the government can have a say on laws I feel there is a positive system. If in time things look brighter then I will admit it, just feel 40 years of positive change is about to be thrown away.

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