The dust is starting to settle and apparently the apocalypse hasn’t happened.
But the post-Brexit UK does feel different and none of us are quite sure what to make of it.
For starters, my blog seems to have gone from random nonsense to political commentary. Perhaps I should rectify that, but then politics did just get very interesting again. It’s not necessarily for the right reasons but it’s hard to deny that the British people are engaged with political debate in a way that they haven’t been for some time.
There was definitely some interest and debate before the referendum took place but since the result was announced it’s all anyone is talking about.
Well that and football.
Wherever I go I keep overhearing conversations about Brexit. It’s certainly all Mrs Proclaims and I can talk about.
Admittedly if Mrs Proclaims would entertain the notion of discussing the football once in a while, we could talk about that, but for some reason I can’t get her to engage with the topic of European sport in the same way that she will engage with European politics. She might argue that I’m less than inclined to discuss Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century European Literature, a topic that she is very well versed in. So perhaps politics is the middle ground for us…
But there is no denying that Brexit is big news. No-one really thought it would happen.
Even quite a lot of people who voted for it didn’t really think it would happen.
Indeed, there’s an increasingly valid argument that if we had the whole referendum again tomorrow, Brexit would definitely not happen.
However anti-EU some people were, voting for Brexit meant definite change and change is scary. It feels like there was this huge protest vote that was meant to make the powers that be sit up and listen, but many ‘Leave’ voters would have been content with a narrow victory for ‘Remain’. The point would have been made. No-one should be complacent about Britain’s place within the EU, now let’s set about getting some meaningful reform.
I get the impression that’s exactly what Boris was hoping for. The ‘Leave’ campaign gave him a platform to set out his credentials to be the UK’s next prime-minister and he took the opportunity gleefully, knowing that a narrow ‘Remain’ victory would weaken David Cameron’s position sufficiently for he – Boris – to make a leadership move in the future, when the time was right.
But it back-fired and now he looks to be heir-apparent to what could be the most politically toxic premiership in recent memory. No-one wants to be captain of this particular ship.
Still someone’s got to do it and it might as well be Boris. Manipulative, over-privileged and apparent buffoon he may be, he remains remarkably popular. He’s also pragmatic. And a popular prime-minister who can be publicly populist and privately pragmatic, might actually be what we need to get through the next few years.
I dislike Boris, but I didn’t exactly revere David Cameron and credible alternatives seem to be thin on the ground. Better the devil you know as they say…
He may have a number of opponents within his own party to contend with – David Cameron had plenty of loyal supporters – but he won’t have much to contend with in terms of opposition across the political divide. The Tories killed off the Lib Dems at the last general election and Labour seems to be in the throes of its own disintegration. Jeremy Corbyn is a man of principal beloved by the grass roots of the Labour movement but appears to be universally detested by his parliamentary colleagues. It’s hard to dislike Jeremy, but it’s also hard to see him becoming Prime Minister any time soon.
So it’s for Boris to lead us into the unknown.
Despite regret from numerous ‘Leave’ voters and apoplectic rage from the 48% of voters who actually wanted to remain within the EU (including yours truly) we are definitely going to leave.
I mean we haven’t actually started the process yet.
And we might not for a while.
Which is really irritating for the rest of the EU.
And while I was very much for us remaining part of the EU, it does fill me with a slightly perverse sense of national pride that we continue to be so irritating to our European neighbours, even after voting to leave.
“If you want to go, you should just go,” they tell us.
“Er, yeah alright,” we mumble vaguely, “we’re going. In a minute.”
So while the EU looks impatiently at its watch, we fumble around, looking for our keys and showing no sign that we’re actually going to exit the building anytime soon.
Meanwhile there is a big European football competition happening and against all the odds, British teams are doing quite well. Almost as if to rub salt into the wounds.
Not all British teams are thriving and loyalty to the EU seems to be a damaging factor.
Scotland, a UK country that did want to remain, didn’t qualify for the tournament at all, while pro-EU UK team, Northern Ireland were knocked out yesterday by anti-EU UK team, Wales.
Indeed, my team and current quarter-finalists, Wales seem to be overachieving as a football team, given that they have never even qualified for the European championships before.
I hope my Welsh compatriots are enjoying our football team’s unheralded success, because Wales is a region that is more dependent on EU subsidies than any other part of the UK and Brexit could have devastating consequences for the Welsh in the next few years.
Then again, maybe not. We don’t actually know for certain what will happen. The Welsh voting for Brexit seems preposterous on paper. But it definitely did happen and maybe things will be ok.
The English, while nearly always there, have a tendency to underperform in major footballing tournaments. But it would somehow feel particularly belligerent of them to go on and win this particular championship. To do so they would have to beat the French team and quite possibly the German team, which is unlikely to heal any rifts prior to the Brexit negotiation proper…
Admittedly England winning a major footballing championship does seem quite far-fetched.
Then again so did the UK voting to leave the EU.
But we are where we are and maybe it’s not the disaster that some predicted it would be. Obviously going from being the world’s fifth largest economy to the world’s sixth largest economy overnight is not the most auspicious of beginnings to this brave new world we are in. And the immediate decline in the value of the pound has certainly ruined my holiday plans for this year.
But every cloud has its silver lining and mine is the following:
Now that the mendacious Nigel Farage and his stupid bigoted UK Independence Party have achieved their raison d’etre, they genuinely have no purpose anymore. The only meaningful political success they ever had was in the European Elections and thanks to their own plotting, they will no longer have that particular outlet. Let’s hope they now just crawl back into their holes and the media stops giving them more attention than their miniscule support base actually merits.
And even though Brexit was engineered by people who I generally find disagreeable, let’s hope that our idiots politicians can make a go of it.
If we’re honest, we were always pretty rubbish at being part of the European Union. Maybe by leaving we can actually find a way of being better neighbours and allies to our fellow Europeans.
Because we remain European, whether part of a politico-economic union or not.
It’s just geography.