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.