Saturday, 25 June 2016

We're out of the EU. What now for the country?

At 0416hrs on 24 June 2016 I found myself wide awake. The daylight had penetrated the thick curtains and I was fully conscious. Keen to find out how the UK voted in the EU referendum – and confident that we'd still be in – I pressed the 'on' button on my bedside radio and discovered that we had voted to leave. I jumped out of bed, legged it downstairs, put the television on and then found myself both angry and depressed about the decision as the news unfolded.

I thought initially that the bigots had won the day and I was very angry about that. I still am. I know a few 'fervent anti-Europeans' who might be considered 'borderline racist'. People whose anti-European Union stance is predicated on the immigration argument and that age-old dispute we've heard so many times. You know the rap, "Coming over 'ere and nicking all our jobs!"

A lot of Brexiters won't stop blaming immigration for all the country's woes. Immigration and, of course, the European Union, go hand-in-hand in the Brexiter's book. But is it racism? Well, yes and no, but more often than not it's the former. A lot of people with right wing views can quickly be revealed as racists, whether borderline or full-on nazis.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that when I think of 'Brexiters' – those who want out of the European Union, and in particular those who want the UK to leave the EU because of immigration – I consider them to be racist on some level? A sweeping generalisation? Yes, of course. I know other people who voted out and they're not racist and some who say they're not racist, but clearly are.

In my opinion, one of the worst and most dangerous things in the world is nationalism and, at this moment in time, there is a huge surge of it happening globally and it's all based around phrases like 'Let's Make Great Britain Great Again'. Nationalism implies exclusion, us and them, black and white, and there lies the problem. And while the immigration issue is a concern, I can't help but feel that the Brexit camp has more than it's fair share of racists in its ranks.

The media, particularly the right wing tabloid media, play on people's fears and, in a sense, have the potential to stir up racial tension among those ignorant enough to believe everything they read in the newspapers.

I must make it clear, however, that I do understand the non-racist argument about controlling the numbers of people flooding into the country and the fact that, sadly, it seems we have to leave the EU to achieve that objective. In fact, the EU's insistence on 'free movement' of EU citizens, even if it means losing the UK (as it clearly does) shows the outright arrogance of Brussels. Despite wanting the UK to remain a part of the 'club', the bureaucrats of Brussels were simply not prepared to budge on the issue. Result? We've upped sticks and left.

Daily Mail readers were no doubt rejoicing at the referendum result. Little Englanders were too, peering out, perhaps, from behind the net curtains, unaware that the British Government has always had total control over non-EU migrants – those who featured on the recent UKIP poster – and that they are by far the biggest chunk of people coming into the country.

Do you really want this overweight, idiotic buffoon running the country?
I find it hard to hold back the laughter sometimes and this is because it is highly likely there will be very little change to immigration into the UK, certainly not for the next few years. We'll be seeing plenty more burkhas on our streets and I wonder how long it will take those who voted Leave to realise that, on some level or other, they've been conned by those masterminding the Brexit campaign. Already we're hearing about broken promises as some of victorious politicians who spearheaded the Vote Leave charge have admitted that X was a mistake and that Y was simply not true. It's already starting to unravel.

Soon the Brexit voters will realise that nobody is going to 'make Great Britain great again' and will ask: was it ever great? Remain voters might argue that if it wasn't for the Americans we'd all be driving Volkswagens and might go further and describe the Brexiters as a bunch of Captain Mainwarings who think they are something special, something a cut above the rest, but, ultimately, they're just a bunch of inward-looking, small-minded people living on a tiny island separated by just 20-odd miles of sea from mainland Europe – and a huge, single market that we're no longer a part of.

David Cameron – or 'Dodgy Dave' as he will always be known – is the main villain of the piece on this occasion. Scared of losing votes to a vocal UKIP headed by Nigel Farage during the run-up to the 2015 General Election, he offered the electorate a straightforward in-out referendum, purely out of self-interest and self-preservation. He wasn't bothered about the future of the country, he was more concerned about the future of the Tory party.

That said, it was also the arrogance of the political elite that lost it for the Remain camp. They had it on a plate – Farage conceded defeat before I hit the sack on Thursday night – but throughout the campaign they tried to scare and patronise the voting public into voting to remain rather than focus on the benefits of EU membership. Fed up with being talked down to, pissed off with being ignored, and highly suspicious of politicians generally, the British people voted to leave the EU.

Once the campaigning started, it was clear that those voting to remain in the European Union were being led by somebody distrusted by the people. Cameron is widely recognised a master of saying one thing and doing another. We've all heard about his stance on Turkey's future membership of the EU; he wanted them in and was pretty vocal about it. While Turkey's membership was a long, long, long way off, the seemingly more vocal Leave campaign seized upon every opportunity to worry the hell out of the working class vote – 75 million Turks would soon be heading our way, they lied, but everyone believed them because they simply didn't believe anything Cameron and his cronies said.

Nobody is saying that uncontrolled immigration isn't an issue and you don't have to be racist to want to sort something out, but to leave the EU is, in my opinion, not the answer. Better to remain and lead reform from within – but it's too late for that now and who's to say we'd get reform. No, the country will simply have to make the best of it.

Cameron was piss poor as the poster boy for the 'remain' campaign. Let's not forget his tax affairs, another example of him saying one thing – we must cut down on tax evaders/avoiders and close down foreign tax havens – and doing another – conveniently having cash stashed away in a Panama tax haven. Not only does Cameron have no shame, he takes us for fools and that, my friends, played into the hands of the Leave campaigners and their brainwashing call for us to 'vote Leave and take control'. Cameron was a major contributory factor behind the UK leaving the EU.

Cameron's resignation – he leaves in October – brings into question who should be running the country. Just think about it for one minute: Boris Johnson, that fat, Port-swilling Tory buffoon. Can you imagine him in charge of the country? What about Orville? Michael Gove, the man who has co-authored a book on privatising the NHS, the man who played havoc with our education system? Surely not.

Perhaps we should have a general election and attempt to get rid of the lot of them, but what would be the alternative? The Labour Party? What a mess they've made of everything. Sticking with the EU referendum, where were they? What message did they put across? Where was Jeremy Corbyn? Corbyn, a fervent anti-European of old, seems to shirk the media spotlight – not a good stance if you're the leader of a major political party.

What is to become of the country? Nobody knows. Moody's has given the UK a negative credit rating, Ford is considering its position, the pound is on shaky ground, the Chinese are saying Brexit is bad news for globalisation and there's nothing anybody can do about it. The people have spoken and now the country must go forward and make the best of the mess Cameron has left behind.

What we really need is find some decent politicians. Where the fuck are they? Think about it for a moment, there aren't any! They're all a bunch of Jeremy Hunts with nothing but their own self-interests at heart. They're not doing the country any favours.

But how did we get to this point? Why is it that we've exited the EU and it looks as if Donald Trump might just make it to the White House in November? Well, it's simple: nobody is listening. The EU – or rather those Brussels bureaucrats the Brexiters keep going on about, they're not listening. They're fully aware of the fact that the British are concerned about free movement and how the country is being overrun with EU and non-EU migrants as a result, but they're not prepared to budge.  Cameron pledged to keep immigration in the tens of thousands, but over 300,000 are coming in annually and they're over-burdening the system, which can barely cope as it is. Wages are coming down, local landscapes are changing beyond all recognition, but the EU is simply not prepared to meet us half way. Our political leaders aren't listening either and perhaps they never will.

The only good thing about the result is the fact that it's clear we DO live in a democracy. If nothing else, it was a victory for democracy. Shame on all those who went to vote with their own Biro pens in fear that government agents might be altering the ballot papers.

As I mowed the front lawn a neighbour who, like me, voted remain, came over to say that he was still very angry about the result. "Me too," I said. Now it's fair to say that votes were cast, a democratic process was observed and we should, of course, move on. And it goes without saying that we will move on, in time. Right now, though, people are smarting at the news that we're out of the EU. Others are rejoicing.

Why did I vote remain? Because I believed in being a part of Europe and not being isolated and I believed that, going forward, was the right thing to do for future generations. The last thing the British want to be is inward-looking and xenophobic. I get a strong sense, however, that the British people have been conned by the far right and that, sooner or later, the full extent of voting out will become clear to them. I don't think it's a good move, but perhaps I'll be proved wrong.

As I continued to mow the lawn, my elderly neighbour joined me for a brief chat about the garden, but soon we broached the subject of the European Union. "I'm old, I remember the war and being bombed by the Germans and that is why a lot of older people have voted out. But I voted remain, not for myself, but for the younger generation," she said. Good on her, I thought, as I considered the selfish attitude of those I know who have voted out.

Perhaps it's unfair to slag off the Brexit voters just because I voted to remain. Yes, some probably are racist bigots, but there are people out there who are genuinely concerned about the way they believe their country is changing. People living in Boston, Lincolnshire spring to to mind. For them the fact that uncontrolled EU immigration was not going away UNLESS we voted out of the EU gave them little in the way of options. Others were worried about democracy and sovereignity and wanted to 'take back control', a phrase I think I will always abhor. Is it really an argument about democracy and sovereignity? Yes, there are faceless Brussels bureaucrats, but surely they're accountable to the member states?

Watching Glastonbury later on iPlayer James – what a brilliant band – completed most of its set and then one of the band members said he saluted all of those who voted remain, but said good riddance to those who voted out – or words to that effect. There was a huge cheer from the crowd and I couldn't help but think that the country had let down the younger generation once again, but only time will tell on that one.

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