The events of the last days have left the country reeling. Not just our country. Shock waves are forming patterns around the world. The illusion that the referendum is over and done is like pretending someone has just won a game of tennis and – better luck next time, eh?
It is indisputable that the election was set up on wooly premises, with no parameters set for a significant win. The legality of any outcome as a binding decision – either way – would be disputable. And what was it we each wanted from the result? Now, there are more answers to that than there are questions. The answers are up close and personal, not a reflection of ‘the greater good’. That the Leave campaign used lies and misinformantion is also indisputable. And why are those who pedalled lies still putting their opinions forward? They should have no further part to play in what happens next. we can no longer trust them. What the Remain campaign failed to address was what is the EU about anyway? Is the bottom line of membership a net benefit to Britain, and indeed to the world? Are our principles so idealistic as to preclude those aspects of the agreement that are disagreeable, and dig in our heels, despite the possible benefits the continuance of the status quo for whatever length of time it takes to find a more agreeable way forward, is something else to consider.
Leadership and direction is sorely missing in British politics, unless it is in the context of personal ambition or a narrow political agenda. Our Prime Minister has thrown in the towel and has opened up the possiblity of a Brexiter becoming his successor – supported by those who actively promoted lies during the campagn. Or another who is of a more ‘conservative’ ilk. Surely what happens next is not just something to be decided by a handful of politicians disposed to think of things in a particular way? A narrow approach to ‘what happens next’ is not going to please the Leave voters who wanted so many different things. Brexit does not mean ‘Brexit’, it means many different things. The Remain voters are angry and shocked by the dangers of this result, and the limitations it could place upon their lives. This is the time for a consensus and democatic process in parliament across all parties. Whether negotiations should take place following a general election is something else to be considered. But in our polarised electoral system, and the chaos of the opposition, a general election right now could take us even further from what it is most of us would consider acceptable.There is no ‘perfect’ solution. It is a time for discussion and compromise. We still need to hold hands with the rest of the world, not just to ‘find new markets’ for our stuff, but in reinforcing bonds with other human beings on our planet, to face the wider challenges such as climate change and international terrorism. We need a functioning and democratic parliament. Electoral reform must surely be on the agenda for the near future?
As a footnote to this personal reflection, I believe that we must fully appreciate that any negotiations over the future of Britain will take place over a protracted period, during which, the political and demographic landscape will change, both nationally and internationally, notwithstanding issues of nationalist blocs withing the UK. This is no time for self-interest, hobby-horse politics or short-termism. Whatever is agreed must run flexibly rather than reactively.