Bruce Lawson's personal site

I want to take my country back!

I’ve been wondering why I feel so personally affronted by the recent UK referendum result that means we’ll leave the EU. Of course, it’ll make my job harder; by the end of this year, I will have had easy, visa-free access to France, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Romania, Netherlands, Spain, Greece and Norway. That could end. (Or not — who knows? There is no plan, just uncertainty).

I’m unhappy that the pressing matters of government will take a backseat to rewriting laws, treaties and standards that we’ll abandon. I’m angry that friends of mine who live and work here now find their status uncertain: the front-runner for Tory PM, Theresa May, refused to guarantee the right to remain for EU people who came before the vote. I’m furious that my daughter’s plans to go to an overseas university are now thwarted.

But mostly, I want to take my country back. I believed that I lived in a country that was a bit weird, detached geographically from continental Europe and therefore a little aloof, but by-and-large liberal and tolerant; a nation of sea-farers who, almost by definition, tended to think internationally; a nation of pragmatists who wouldn’t shoot their own economy down in flames for a dogma of immigrantphobia (the babysteps of the dogma that our grandparents fought against).

It seems I don’t live in that country.

If the vote had been more overwhelmingly in favour of exit, I’d conclude that the country I thought I lived in was a fiction, mutually constructed by the liberal, border-hopping people I call colleagues and friends. But the vote was so close (48% to 52%) that I realise the country I believed in was shared by almost half the population of the UK. It really feels that we live in a divided nation.

Soon, it will really divide. Scotland will leave; why would they stay? The Scots overwhelmingly rejected Westminster Tories and Brexit. To “save the UK”, the Brexiters are breaking it up, and leaving a rump state with a faltering economy and a great schism in the population. I want to take my country back, and I see no way to do it.

9 Responses to “ I want to take my country back! ”

Comment by Kris Jeary

Spot on Bruce, echoes my thoughts entirely. If the current fallout was a TV show it would be gripping, unfortunately this is my life, the life of my friends and family, that these opportunist politicians are gambling with.

Comment by Charlie

I think the first thing is to do is to point out that parliament is still sovereign and will need to pass a bill to invoke Article 50.

More importantly I think we’re all required to reach out across the divide because we can’t expect the politicians to do it for us. Or afford to wait for them even if they did. A lot of people voted to leave because they were angry and felt neglected. These people won’t be reached by telling them they did voted wrongly, even if it was out of protest. Scott Adams has pointed out the power of identity in politics. Your previous post was a start but we need more instances that demonstrate that there is no conflict between being English and European. And that people have less to fear from the Romanians in the field and the Poles driving the buses than they do from the Eton crowd. The EU protects workers’ rights, hospitals and schools from abuse. The EU did not devise zero-hour contracts nor prevent people from buying free range eggs: both reasons that have been given to leave.

Encourage any EU nationals with permanent residence permits (secured through treaty obligation and thus irreversible) to apply for UK citizenship (dual nationality is not a problem) so that they can participate in the next election, which can’t be too far off.

The potential collapse of the Labour vote in the UK has been expected but due to Corbyn’s pathetic performance looks to have been accelerated. His apparent project to turn the Labour Party into Socialist Worker is alarming. Not that the rest of parliamentary Labour Party inspires any confidence but they do seem to have understood the potential risks.

I’m not a Labour voter and would love to see the Liberals picking up the disenchanted middle class Labour voters, but I’m not sure if that will help in the current electoral system. I suspect this may have been the idea behind the referendum: split the Labour vote forever.

Comment by Patrick H. Lauke

Charlie,

“Encourage any EU nationals with permanent residence permits” where do I get this “permit”? I’ve been here since 1999 without anything like that.

“to apply for UK citizenship” I’m going to take a stab here and say the system for this will be absolutely swamped now.

Comment by Charlie

Patrick,

the rules vary from country to country but you almost certainly have permanent resident rights. First place to talk to will probably be your local council. Most of the people will be able to help you and point you in the right direction.

Be a good idea to post information about how you get on.

Comment by Justin

uk.gov should run a poll on twitter and invite everyone to vote again, leave or remain.

It makes about as much sense as having the vote in the first place. We rely on an elected set of board members to make crucial decisions about large organisations… I don’t know why we decided to let the public (90% of which didn’t understand the actual ramifications of the vote) make the decision.

Comment by Charlie

Justin,

Cameron panicked in 2011 and made a rash promise to try and quell dissent in his own party, hoping the circumstance would never arise (Blair made a similar promise about the Euro but had criteria like “should Tuesday come before Monday” that could never be fulfilled.

Cameron could easily have said in 2015 that the referendum would no longer be required and forced the dissenters out of the party. That’s what leaders are expected to do.

So the country was in effect ask to sort out a problem in the Conservative Party. What a great idea that was! Shades of 1975 but Wilson was a more skilled politician.

And then nobody seemed to want to make the case for the EU. I blame Jeremy Corbyn as much as Cameron for this. Corbyn seems hellbent on returning to a 1970s Labour Party with apparent disregard for the effect on the country that mirrors that of the Tories.

We now have political, economic and probably legal uncertainty (should a bill be presented to Parliament?). Not really a good environment for jobs.

Comment by David

Bruce,

I understand your emotions. If I were from UK, I’d probably be pissed off.
But rationally, I think nothing your fear will happen, except maybe for your daughter’s plans (and that’s indeed a shame)
You list Norway in your post. But it’s already not in the EU. Isn’t it a good example of the pragmatism that will be made for the UK ?
I think almost nothing will change.

And for the “great division” of your country, well first I think it’s just an illusion. If the question had been “what EU do you want?” instead of “do you want to be in the current EU?”, it would have given the opportunity to people to tell “I want a EU that is also social and fiscal, not only economic, because it creates social dumping (the polish worker), and offshoring”.

Comment by steve bott

I don’t normally bother with these internet debates but this is such a big issue that I feel compelled to
I totally agree on all the above comments and Charlie expresses my thoughts more eloquently that I ever could
I voted to remain in Europe and believe it is a huge mistake to move away and isolate ourselves from our Europeon friends(nor Scotland and Ireland for that matter)
The British public was sold half truths and blatent lies( what at the time seemed to be obvious) on immigration and spending
I understand and respect the views of the people who voted out but I think that the decent working class folk will be the losers in a capitalistic money driven country and as Charlie mentions Europe introduced alot of workers rights legislation amonst other postive laws protecting people who are less well off
I am still in the hope that we can move forward positively, the referendum is not the law.
All the main polititians that pushed for brexit have fallen by the way in the aftermath and the powers that are there now should take the correct measures for all the Brithish folk in the UK and here in Europe

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