I debated long and hard about writing this piece. Politics isn’t my strong point, and I don’t usually write about it.
I weighed up the risk of coming off as preachy, self-righteous and ill-informed; like a politically-motivated 16-year-old who joins their local socialist party and protests about the inequalities of life, in spite of never having done a day’s work or paid any tax in their life.
I also considered the very real risk of highlighting my lack of knowledge and understanding of Brexit, and politics in general. I’ve decided I’ll take that chance. I’m as likely to represent the average person in the street as anyone, and this is me airing my views.
Here it is.
The BBC news tells me this morning that the most contentious matter affecting Brexit right now, the topic that’s on everyone’s minds is the hard-border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland.
No it isn’t.
Well, not for me anyway…
Aside from the selfish fact that I’ve never crossed that border, and have no immediate plans to do so, I don’t see this as the biggest stumbling block to achieving a Brexit that will suit the population of Britain and of Europe as a whole.
The news announces this, presumably to distract from the unmitigated shambles that the rest of Brexit seems to be from the perspective of the average person in the street (i.e. me). It feels as though it’s been this way ever since that June day in 2016 when there were marginally more votes in favour of leaving than remaining (51.9% to 48.1% to be precise).
I voted to remain, as did pretty much everyone who I know and speak to. Some of my nearest and dearest voted to leave too (for the purposes of disclosure). It hasn’t harmed my relationship with them one bit and everyone has the right to vote for what they think is right and in their own best interests. What I see happening in relation to Brexit right now is a lot of politicians wasting a lot of money on meaningless and ineffective debate and negotiation that seems to be going nowhere.
This was what I thought that those favouring Brexit were offended by; the waste of money on pointless layers of political bureaucracy?
I realise that to enact Brexit will demand a process of negotiation, and the inevitable bureaucratic due-process to make it happen.
What I struggle to understand right now is what, if anything has actually been resolved in the years since the decision?
To say that the Irish border is the main stumbling block right now, implies that it’s the last remaining point of negotiation before it’s all sorted. It’s like saying that the house is nearly built, we’ve just got to fit the carpets and screw the chrome-plated number onto the front door.
Unless I’ve missed the memo, I don’t know any of the details of what’s been agreed as yet?
I’ve no idea whether those many Europeans who’ve made their homes and built their lives in the UK, as valued and contributing members of British society, will have to apply for visas or face repatriation? What about my daughter who is currently studying at a university in the Netherlands? When Brexit is officially enacted in 2020 (or whenever it comes to pass) will she all of a sudden be treated differently, require a visa or will her study fees quadruple overnight?
Will it all of a sudden take four-times as long to pass through customs and passport control when I take my family on holiday to France?
Will the cost of things we’d previously relied upon and been able to afford, suddenly become unaffordable as retailers pass-on new taxes on imported goods to the end consumer? Life in the UK has always felt expensive compared to any country elsewhere in Europe or the world. Will this become all the more prevalent?
Having witnessed first-hand the heart-wrenching sight of young African migrants sleeping at the roadside in Northern France and trying to jump onto the back of moving trucks as they drive towards Ferries in the hope of securing passage to the UK, I can only assume that the so-called hardening of borders is going to involve ever-more aggressive tactics?
Are we headed for our own Trump-like border-force, patrolling our shores? Is the funding of this protection going to be funded from money wasted on our subscription to the EU? I thought that money was going to be redirected to our National Health Service?
If I hadn’t won the postcode lottery of life, born into the privilege of life in the UK then I might want to live in a safer and more prosperous part of the world. If I’d grown up with repression, famine and persecution then I’d be doing my best to move my family elsewhere in the world.
Are we, like the government of the USA now saying that we won’t afford anyone that right in regard to our borders? Sure, I understand that people can’t come and go without restriction, and that the infrastructure of a country can only cope with so many. However, many of the ‘born and bred’ Brits who seem most-vocally in favour of Brexit are those who seem to me to add the least value, and who want to take the most from the system that they’re seeking to protect.
Give me a hard-working and society-minded person of any nationality, any day.
Have these things actually been settled, or are they all still up for debate? Is the government planning a big reveal; to whip-back a giant satin Union-Flag, draped over a giant stone tablet outlining all the many new rules and deals that have been agreed which will make our lives suddenly miraculously better, free of the interference from European Parliament?
I’m sceptical to say the least.
All I know for certain right now is that our Passports are going to return to having a navy blue cover like they used-to, back in the ‘good old days’. Well that’s a relief. Aside from this, I know precious little of the specifics of how life will be post-Brexit.
There are many who want the public to be given a vote on the final deal to see if it’s something that appeals, as recent protests in London illustrate. I can understand how this would be seen as back-tracking by those who say that the public has spoken. It seems like the sensible option for me.
Those in power could essentially agree to any deal they liked at this point, or one that is self-serving and politically motivated (a shocking prospect to entertain… that never happens, right?). Giving the British public the chance to decide if the deal that’s on the table is actually appealing or not seems the fairest option, but I know that it won’t happen.
I don’t really know what my closing point is for this post really. I guess that I’m just venting my frustration. I’m feeling more and more that the whole process is a game of smoke and mirrors positioned by our government to distract us from the realities of what is really going on. Theresa May will state that the deal is 90% done, her European counterparts will say it’s more like 0 to 5% agreed. I don’t believe either of them.
In an era where fake news is endemic, I suspect that this is the only reality we can really agree on, that nobody is really clear on what is real anymore… in politics at least.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please feel free to join my email list.