So today’s the day. For most of my lifetime, the UK has been a member of a series of organisations that with the triggering of Article 50, we now start to leave.
I admit I was stunned by the outcome. It was reasonable to expect that the status quo would prevail in such a momentous democratic opportunity. But as we know, that didn’t happen. Despite (or perhaps more likely, as a result of…) all the scaremongering and utterly depressing lack of confidence in this country from the remain campaign, the British people delivered their earth-shattering verdict on the EU with the biggest voting turnout in 25 years.
Within my circle of friends, and arts industry people I follow on Twitter, I was absolutely in the minority (well at least among those who made their feelings public). For many weeks after the result, social networks were awash with high emotions, anger, and mourning along with lazy and inaccurate character assasinations of leave voters. So on this historic day, I need to get something off my chest.
Despite how much of the media and some remain supporters like to label leave voters as a simplistic stereotype, voting to leave the EU does not make me:
- A ‘Little-Englander’
It means just one thing; I voted to leave the EU.
I don’t believe that the UK should be a member of the EU (or the inevitable future United States of Europe) because I very simply think we’re a terrible fit. It’s irrefutable that the UK has always had an awkward relationship with the rest of the EU as a second-class-not-fully-engaged-always-wants-special-concessions member and I honestly think that after 44 years of this strained relationship, an amicable divorce is the best way forward for both of us.
The majority of politicians soon realised that going against the unexpected result would be tantamount to political suicide, so we saw much illogical handwringing from Labour MPs successfully tying themselves in knots over ‘personal convictions’ vs ‘will of the people’ for the Article 50 bill or in Diane Abbott’s case, having a timely migraine. Meanwhile as the anti-Brexit party, the Liberal Democrats have put themselves firmly on course to being even more irrelevant (and I say that after 30 years of voting for them).
Leaving the EU does not mean the UK cannot continue friendly and co-operative relationships with other European countries. It does not mean we cannot continue to work together on important matters of security etc. I don’t doubt for a moment that many areas will be more challenging than before, but where there are mutually beneficial reasons to do so, it is plainly obvious that countries will co-operate. We won’t stop being European after leaving the EU. The EU is not Europe.
So now the day has come, let’s leave all the pessimistic doom and gloom behind and move forwards with a positive vision of what this country can achieve in the future within the whole world, including the rest of Europe.