I don’t want to spend all day lingering over Brexit, but I also think I won’t serve any good pretending it isn’t happening, so this is my one post about it.
This was pretty much inevitable from the 24th June 2016. I argued, campaigned, prayed and educated in the hopes it could be changed—and we came closer to that goal than I thought possible—but I don’t think I ever really believed we were going to stop it. The lies and illegality of the referendum and the factionalism of both Labour and the Remain movement aside, the political weight of a referendum is hard to overcome; that’s why bad actors like them so much. It’s happened, now, and the focus should be on the future.
People are going to suffer. Not right away, since we’re leaving with an exit deal in place (perversely, the best thing that could have happened for Brexit was losing the fight for a “clean break,” since starting tomorrow the Brexiters are going to start banging on about how mysteriously it hasn’t immediately gone horribly wrong), but people are going to suffer. Ironically—tragically—some of the people who are going to suffer the most are also some of the people who prayed hardest for this to happen.
That will give me no satisfaction, and I beg you not to gloat or rejoice when it occurs. Because most of the people who are going to suffer voted—and hoped with every fibre of their being—to stop it; because many of the people who are going to suffer are the vulnerable, the excluded, the marginalised, and they deserve only our empathy and our kindness. But also because, whether they called for it or not, everyone who suffers is a human being. Be gracious in defeat, not by “getting over it” but by fighting for everyone’s dignity and humanity, including those who hoped for this.
It’s not over. I know, not as an article of faith, but as a cold, rational assessment of the facts as I know them, that we will be humbled and impoverished as a nation. And I’ve seen how a new movement of open-minded, optimistic Britons has sprung up and organised. Between those two facts, I know that a few years from now—not less than five, not more than twenty—we’ll be returning to the fold, though that’s small comfort now.
But our fight, as of this moment, isn’t to make that argument, but to hold our vindictive, cruel, greedy, triumphalist, nationalist government to account. Whatever you’ve previously thought of the Conservative Party in times past, whatever you’ve admired about them, they’re now under the sway of charlatans and monsters, content to appeal to the very worst impulses of society. And those men have power, now, and dangerous, poisonous ambitions, and they know their base is too delirious to care what they do, and they believe their opponents are too despondent to notice. They’re expecting the longest, wildest political honeymoon imaginable, and they’re going to exploit that as much as they can. They’ve announced more cuts to the poorest councils, more damage to the civil service; they’ve got their eyes on the courts next. Watch them, shout about what they do. Make sure, when they do the shit we can’t stop them doing, that it at least doesn’t go unnoticed.
Care for your friends, your family, your neighbours. Shit—for strangers, for people in the streets. They’re going to need it. Care for yourself, too; it’s going to be a long road.
I know—though I still struggle to see why—that a remarkable number of people turn to me for analysis and education, and I’m not going to give up on that just because this fight is over. I’m not sure what exactly I’ll talk about, but I’ll talk about things as I see them. That seems to be what I have to offer.
Take care of yourselves. I see you.