Warning: unedited stream of consciousness.
Next Saturday, I’ll be attending a protest march in London. I know the government won’t listen, I know that nothing will change. Sometimes protests make change happen – not very often though.
So why march?
Well, there’s not much I can do to stop Brexit. My local MP defied Labour’s three-line whip to vote against the bill (which I appreciate, greatly) and any reasoned arguments against Brexit are met with “but we’re going to get the best deal.” A march will show that this is an unconvincing argument.
The 48% who voted to Remain in the EU are not just being ignored, but completely silenced. They’re already being made scapegoats by some Brexit supporters – the pound is weak because we’re ‘talking down Britain’. If Brexit isn’t a success, they say, it won’t be because it was a terrible idea, or even a good idea poorly implemented, the blame is already being laid at the feet of ‘Remoaners’ for not uniting or trying to make the best of it.
That argument has a small ring of truth. I know small business owners, technical professionals, skilled and educated people who are looking at emigrating because of the government’s course before Brexit hits properly. If what I can see in my own bubble is representative, then these ‘Remoaners’ will inflict some small economic harm on the UK by leaving. Then again, it could be argued that they are taking back individual control and leaving an undemocratic union rather than trying to make the best of it. Which 52% of the country also decided was the right course to take.
The government’s attitude towards Scotland is absolutely astonishing too. I wouldn’t believe it if I read it in a book – it has an air of Douglas Adams to it. Telling people that leaving our biggest trade partner to go it alone is guaranteed to be a success, but telling Scotland they can’t afford to go it alone? Trying to explain that it would be irresponsible to have a referendum when the final relationship isn’t clear? The thing that swung the first Scottish referendum was membership of the EU. Now they’re guaranteed to lose membership of the EU, but when independent they have a chance to re-join it. And as a small economy in the union, they will see investment to accelerate their own independent growth and success, like we’ve seen with other new members. I don’t think Scottish Independence will be good for the UK. But I think Scottish Independence with EU membership will be better for Scotland than UK membership without the EU, and even that will be better than Scottish Independence without the EU. So it’s a gamble, but seems quite a safe gamble. I can’t see any reason they wouldn’t get into the EU fairly quickly after independence, other than the border issue. But Northern Ireland will already have set an example there.
I think we will either have Freedom of Movement with the EU (and riots from the 52%), or there will be some sort of a border in Ireland. I can’t see it going any other way. You can’t put up a border between Northern Ireland and the UK (it’ll be like having your passport checked to go to Wales). When I was young, ‘terrorist’ meant ‘IRA’ in any news story I heard. Since then, things have settled down a lot. Borders could start to unwind that process.
I don’t see the benefit in Brexit. We will be throwing away our trade deals (made by a strong economy with 20+ other large states to form a powerful negotiating bloc) to make new ones, as a single state with a weak currency.
The Leave campaign, and the Conservative manifesto, promised that we would stay in the Single Market. Leaving that would be completely nuts. We are going to lose many large businesses as they flee to Ireland, France or Germany. The government’s current course is like (and I steal this from someone else, I can’t remember who though) Remain won 52% and told the country that it was therefore the will of the people and a clear mandate to drop the pound and join the Euro. And then trying to tell 48% of the population to ‘just get over it’. And the leader of the opposition bullying their party to support this plan, then trying to pretend that they really oppose it.
The whole Brexit situation is aggravating, and I’m not even going to go into the whole Parliament-vote final deal stuff. The government is crazy. The country is doomed. And it won’t be my fault, I didn’t vote for it and I’m not trying to sabotage it. If there’s even anything I can do to make it work, I’ll do it because I don’t want everything to collapse more than it already has. But if me saying “I don’t think that’s a good idea…” on my private Facebook or a blog no-one reads is enough to derail the Brexit plans, then maybe Brexit isn’t the guaranteed success it’s being promised as.
So I’m going to go to this march and be counted and show that it’s not just a small minority who lost the vote. The half of the population who lost still feel very strongly, and deserve to have their concerns answered properly. Being told “we’re going to get the best deal” isn’t very convincing. Other countries have no obligation to give us a good deal. We need answers, we need a plan, and we need to be treated fairly – when Brexit fails, it won’t be the fault of the people who voted against it.