Greetings from Cape Cod! As the Referendum count was getting on its way I was getting around a 2lb monster lobster. Having gorged myself on the magnificent beast, we eventually returned to our hotel. I tuned into the internet and followed events as they unfolded during my night – 5 hours behind the UK.
As the new day breaks, I have already received a couple of emails and a telephone call (from Italy) enquiring as to how I feel about the Brexit result. Ericle readers, who carefully read my blog pieces on the subject, will have noted that my support for Leave was essentially based on long term democratic & institutional beliefs and not on the short term ‘hot topics’. Moreover I have had a truly torrid, if not horrid, time defending my viewpoint among my friends who see the Brexit decision as insular and right wing.
So how do I feel today? I am pleased and excited but must also admit to having a feeling of “OMG, what have we done!” I am bracing myself for a further barrage of abuse on the short term reactions – Scotland, exchange rate, Boris etc. My answer though will still be that I believe it is the right long term decision and that when the dust settles we will be better off – economically, socially & politically – and so will Europe, who will thank us for our (possibly not) clear-headed and brave decision. However, I do also acknowledge that the decision is a gamble and it could all go horribly wrong! But then again a decision to remain certainly offered no cast-iron certainties and proffered potential to the UK for serious misadventures by dint of involvement.
The tone and content of the Referendum debate plumbed new lows of political campaigning and public debate. Perhaps this was inevitable as the issues are complex and not a natural subject for a simple In or Out decision. Thinking back on it now, at the break of a new day, the Referendum could/should have been cast differently. It could have been cast on the acceptability of the ‘renegotiated’ terms and not possibly have sought a binding result. This is as may be. The Referendum was almost certainly a misconceived adventure, set in motion by a political miscalculation. But what is done, is done. We now have to deal with the aftermath. As The Times put it today, we are now involved in the most complex long-term divorce in political history. We are still a member of the EU as long as this legal process is under way. It may be a very good thing that the repercussions of the decision now go behind closed doors and, hopefully, become the subject of calm and considered expert opinion. I remain optimistic on the outcomes. This will be as much a time for the EU to review its purpose and agenda as for the UK to work out where and how it wants to proceed.
We – the UK, Europe, (the World) – are in uncharted waters. The reason I voted ‘Leave’ was essentially because I see the EU as a failing project and that our so-called renegotiation achieved nothing for us or for Europe. I am an optimist by nature and really do believe that when the history is written it will look kindly on the UK’s stand as being key, not only to our country’s positive reframing of its position but also, to a recasting of a Europe with a more rational achievable long-term agenda and driven by more democratic institutions that are more fit-for-purpose.
Oh, and by-the-way, I’m having a great holiday.