Last (?) words on Brexit

A couple of final points about this all-consuming subject, then I’m going to gag myself.

Point One. Everyone agrees that a general election is called for in the coming weeks or months. So much has happened, or failed to happen, since the last election in 2017 that it’s perfectly reasonable that the electorate should be given the opportunity to cast their vote again. Fine, no one can argue with that. The curious thing is that the same principle seems not to apply with regard to the result of the 2016 referendum. You hear again and again that the narrow majority in favour of Leave in 2016 represented ‘the will of the people’ and should not therefore be questioned. But you never hear anyone saying that the result of the 2017 election also represented the will of the people and therefore there’s no need for another election. You never hear anyone say, ‘Well, X million people voted Tory and Y million people voted Labour in 2017, that was the will of the people and it would be an anti-democratic outrage to require people to vote again.’

Point Two. As to the reason or reasons why so many people voted Leave in 2016 (putting aside the fact that the Leave campaign was built upon a heap of untruths about the supposed economic benefits of leaving), there’s this: if you live in a depressed part of the country and you have a poorly-paid job or no job at all and you’re given the choice between the status quo and a Big Change with the possibility that the latter may bring with it an improvement to your living standards, then of course you’re going to vote for the Big Change. Because why would you vote for things to remain the same when the things in question are uniformly crap? After all, what have you got to lose? That’s the reason why London and other similarly affluent cities and regions voted Remain while places like Stoke-on-Trent (a city I lived in for a number of years and can therefore attest to its extraordinary shittiness) polled a vote of almost 70% for Leave. It was this, far more than fears about immigration or a wish to ‘take back control’, that drove and perhaps continues to drive the Leave vote.

Postscript: Boris’s shameless display of demagoguery in the Commons last night was truly disturbing. His role as PM should of course be to heal the country’s divisions, not sow further division with his half-arsed bluster about surrender, cowardice and betrayal. Incidentally, I can’t be the only one to have noticed Brexit parallels everywhere on TV these days: for example in the BBC documentary series ‘The Rise of the Nazis’ (Hitler and Boris) and the 1930s drama series ‘Peaky Blinders’ (Mosley and Farage). Presumably these parallels are not accidental.

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