In years to come, this will be a date remembered. Like other memorable dates in the past, this one will take its place in the history books, and be spoken of by future generations.
Against the odds, and to my own great surprise, Britain has voted to leave the EU, and by a fair margin too. The vote says a lot more than just about dissatisfaction with Europe. it shows a country divided, between the haves, and the have-nots. The patronising intellectuals who tell the working people what is best for them have been faced with a revolution from the voters. The scare-mongers have had their bluff called, and the ranks of politicians who were sure that they knew best, have found out that they didn’t know anything.
This country has had the remarkable courage to face an uncertain future, and to accept responsibility for that future too. I am immensely proud of my fellow voters. They ignored the slurs, saw past the untruths and downright lies, and decided to take a chance on independence. Even faced with the prospect of hard times ahead, they chose to literally stand up and be counted.
Now it is all over, what happens next? Many years of negotiations to actually disentangle ourselves from this bureaucratic spider’s web, that’s what. A minimum of two years, up to a possible seven years, before we return to anything resembling how things were before we joined in the first place. David Cameron staked his reputation on a Remain vote, and lost. He will resign at some stage. He was going at the next election anyway, so no loss. Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party also failed to rally their voters to the Remain side, so heads will undoubtedly roll there as well.
Shares have dropped, then bounced back. The pound has ‘collapsed’ on world markets. So what? Cheaper exports for our goods, slightly more expensive imports, and a financial penalty for those going on holiday abroad. There is a chance of more expensive fuel prices, and there will undoubtedly be some belt-tightening in the country as a whole. Things will certainly get a little worse, before they ever get better again. But there can be no price on self-respect, and no value placed on the power of a genuine democratic vote.
What will not happen? Foreign nationals living here will not be required to go home. EU citizens living here will not be required to go home. The NHS will not disintegrate for want of a workforce. The valued workers from places like The Philippines, Thailand, Africa, and the West Indies, will not be required to go home. Doctors, nurses, and other workers from Australia, New Zealand, or anywhere else, will not be asked to leave their jobs and return home. Properties and businesses owned by foreign nationals will not be taken away from them, and their money and investments will be safe. This is Britain in 2016, not Uganda in 1972. Germany will not impose tariffs on goods exported to the UK. Foreign-owned companies will not close factories and businesses in a country where they are long-established. European countries will not suddenly impose a visa requirement on UK nationals. It would serve no purpose.
Just some of the things that will not happen.
Scotland will ask for independence from the UK, once again. This time, they might win the vote that they couldn’t get in their last referendum. What then, an independent country to the north of England? A small and separate member of the EU, having to adopt the Euro as a currency, and enforce border controls with England? It is unlikely, but if so, so what? The United Kingdom is far from united, and may well fare much better as smaller, separate countries, who knows? Northern Ireland, long troubled, is once again divided by the vote, with the Nationalists wanting to remain in the EU alongside the Republic of Ireland, and the Loyalists voting to leave the EU. No doubt some accommodation will have to be made, as it usually is in those difficult counties.
We will have to attempt to curb the excesses of the old school, the silent elite, and the burgeoning racists. Unwelcome bedfellows in this campaign that they were, their presence cannot be ignored. Hopefully, they will also have learned not to try to fool the voting public anymore.
Lots of work to do, and many lessons to be learned. The main one? Ignore the ‘ordinary’ people at your peril, for one day they will rise up, even if only at the ballot box.