So the people have spoken, and for some commentators there’s a sense of Brecht’s comment – ‘the people have failed, we must get a new people’. My own preference was the same as Jessica’s. I voted ‘out’ in 1975, and ‘in’ this time – so I am used to being on the less popular side of this issue. The Brexiteers have cleverly played on the fears of a lot of people that they are being left behind by globalisation, and that the levels of immigration are changing their country beyond recognition, and that ‘something should be done’. ‘Remain’ were very unwise to unlaunch ‘project fear’, and I suspect Brexit may find it was not all in their imagination; we shall see. I disliked the ‘what do experts know’ tone of much of the Brexit comment. It is one thing to point out, reasonably, that the experts are not infallible, it is another to imply that their opinion is worth no more than that of the man on the Clapham omnibus. One thing is now for certain, we are going to live test the experiment that the experts don’t know best.
Already, Nicola Sturgeon has announced there will be legislation to allow another Scottish referendum on the question of independence. Prime Minister Cameron, whose short-termism was the origin of this referendum, has announced he will stand down by October, paving the way for the Conservatives to concentrate on their leadership contest rather than governing the country. The Labour leader, whose campaigning for ‘remain’ was at best half-hearted, will also face questions and a possible challenge. It is clear that a majority of those who voted do not believe what their political leaders are telling them, but it is unclear what sort of politics would deliver that. UKIP has secured its aim of ending our membership of the EU (once negotiations are complete), but it has also destroyed the UK in the process; the Scots want to remain in the EU, and do the Northern Irish. It is hard to see how the UK can continue in its current form.
None of us can know where this comes out now. Brexit talked of the bold hopes of a brave new world, now they will have to deliver, and if they don’t, then we shall be in for another round of people feeling ‘betrayed’. People have been able to blame the EU for almost anything they wanted, now they are losing that scapegoat. If, as may happen, Brexit is the first domino to fall, the EU itself may implode; if that happens, all bets are off.
For our American friends, remember, for the last year the powers that be have been saying that this could not happen. You are being told Donald Trump can’t be president; really?