As I write this on 31st January 2020 there is less than four hours to go until the Brexit deadline of 11pm, heralding the UK withdrawal from the EU. There will follow a “transition year” for the country to negotiate our final terms. I wasn’t going to write anything, but having heard such utter nonsense on the subject today, I’m compelled to do so.
My entire lifetime has had a political European flavour to it, as the UK began negotiations for joining the EEC (as it was) in 1969 and officially became a member on January 1st 1973, three weeks before my third birthday. It’s always been there, and I guess I took it for granted. I’d describe myself as a British Scot, and would tag on the European bit as an afterthought. I’ve described in a previous blog the nationality shame I felt on a visit to Brussels in 2015.
This morning I watched All About Politics with Adam Boulton on SKY News, where Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen was being interviewed. He was in great spirits as he prattled on about regaining our sovereignty, taking control of our courts and borders etc, when asked what the real benefits would be on leaving the EU. All arguments with no real foundation, I think. But I listened incredulous as I heard the MP state “there was a referendum, European elections, an election and ANOTHER referendum” for today. Really! There was NO SECOND REFERENDUM, or is that the true description for the Boris Johnson General Election? Thinking I must have heard wrongly, Andrew Bridgen then told Adam Boulton that after four votes (I take it for Brexit) the reporter should really get over it and accept once and for all the peoples will. I was stunned. The interview finished with the MP saying he would be celebrating Brexit with wife/friends having dinner in the Carlton Club, a media engagement in Parliament Square followed by drinks at the Cavalry Guards club. If ever there was a prime example of a different mindset/planet many government representatives live in, this was it.
Considering the UK Parliament could call a referendum in the first place, suggests we had our sovereignty all along as EU members. But that irony seems lost on many. The paradox of course is that the EU Withdrawal Bill was rejected by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, 3 members of the UK. Yet the UK government proceeded regardless of the “normal” consent process because Brexit was so unusual. Of course the individual nations are NOT sovereign as part of the UK, though they have devolved Parliaments. By ignoring their mandate on the Withdrawal Bill, the Boris Johnson “One Nation Conservatism” government has a whole new meaning.
In the afternoon on a Stoke bus, I overheard some elderly people say “Brexit dragged on so long ‘cause our £350 million a week propped up the bankrupt Spain, Italy, France. So the EU didn’t want us to leave and stopped us. Now the money can go to the NHS like they promised”. This referendum promise, advertised on the side of a bus, was effectively withdrawn the day after the vote. Much of the rhetoric had been based on lies. But still there lurks such a sad delusion on how things will be “now we’ve got our country back”.
It’s not just older people/MPs who think the country is coming back, that we should be proud today to be British. This mantra, peddled on the TV and in many homes, influences the younger generation heavily, as a teacher friend said “they soak it up like a sponge, what they hear/see at home and online. We agreed many don’t seem to question things much at all. In a hour, I’d seen at least three examples of today’s youth displaying the same notions as MP Andrew Bridgen and those elderly bus passengers. That’s ALARMING to say the least.
Every nation in the world is inter-dependant and most exist within some kind of power block that share economic, political and social ideals. The EU until tonight was the UKs power block, and as world tensions rise, we as a country walk away from it to go alone. Nuts!
So as the clock counts down I will say, Europe I am sorry I took my citizenship of your club for granted. I’m disgusted at the action my nation’s government has taken in withdrawing from it. This was not done in my name. Farewell, but I hope not forever.