Brexit, Politics, UK

Fishes are happy: Brexit Postmortem and Endgame

Yay! Little Britain is back! Oh no, not the series, but in real life, and on a grand scale, little Britain is back! Only I wish I could laugh out loud at the comedy, and not be disgusted at the present state of affairs.

So this is it! The UK is free now! Not sure who we are free from and what this freedom really means, but we have something to celebrate. Not the Big Ben bong as the bong-crazy Mark Francois had planned, but we have already started the celebrations! How can we forget! We sent diligently chosen chimps down to European Parliament, meticulously disguised as humans, to wave the Union Jack and let out some raucous gibberish. Going by their track record, the flag was probably held upside down. But hey ho, we are free. Now all our problems are going to be solved. There will be more money to the NHS for imaginary hospitals to be built and recruit nurses that are already recruited, there will be freedom from the EU laws and having to care about human rights, and hands up those who love chlorinated chicken and pesticide covered food…your day has finally come! And the last one, I saved the best one for the end…no bloody immigrants! You won’t have to feel that you don’t belong to this country anymore because two people next to you were talking in a language you don’t understand. Who knows what they were talking about…maybe they were planning to rob you! The festival of Brexit is coming up next, and the world will witness the amazing celebrations…of shooting yourself in the foot. What a joke the Brexit has become!

I feel heartbroken, that UK has not learnt a lesson from the two wars, and this marks the day when the member states signed an agreement that will take us back to the nineteenth century and eventually to another fragmented continent it used to be. In a time where the world desperately needs more synergy, we laid the first bricks for a divisive society, not just with our European neighbours, but inside the country as well. There are already pleas to ban waving the EU flag after the Brexit day, and I’m sure the Europeans living in the UK will be made to feel less and less welcome if not blatantly told to go back. There is no point skirting around the issue; since Brexit results, the British society has become a lot more polarised and racist and xenophobic, the stigma that was painfully tucked away under the carpet have suddenly been let sprung out in the open. It was a collective failure, and as much as Brexit is UK’s own doing, the role of the EU cannot be ignored.

So, by the time 2019 election handed Labour its worst results in decades, it was time to rethink if it was worth continuing with trying to stop Brexit in vain or look at the bigger picture and act together against the real enemy. To build a fairer society, the Conservatives have to go, and Brexit is nothing but an outcome of the austerity measures taken by the Conservatives. Not since 2010, but since the time of Thatcher. The systemic deprivation and vilification of the working class, decimating the power of unions, privatisations — these all helped promote a London-centric service economy to the world, but it was at the cost of the rest of Britain that has been in decline since then. It’s unfortunate that the people who were worst affected failed to see the real menace, responsible for their plight and they believed all the false promises made by Leave campaign and all the false enemies created by the conservatives and their right-leaning counterparts UKIP and Brexit Party. They didn’t see that the EU actually played a balancing act preventing the Conservatives run rampant through their austerity plans.

Let’s talk about the role of the opposition throughout this calamity. Even though being a Labour supporter, their handling of Brexit situation was shambolic. They sat on the fence for far too long, then made a hasty call that they oppose Brexit, then retracted the statement. I wish Jeremy Corbyn refused to oppose Brexit, if that was on his mind to do, and rather drive for a fairer Brexit. Yes, Jeremy inspired many young people to politics, but in my view, the numbers are skewed and don’t make up the critical mass to win constituencies. Doing that, perhaps won’t have cost the 2019 election. We talk about 2017, but even if Labour had won that election, I doubt Brexit could have been stopped. In the end, Corbyn’s vision was a fairer society. So, although an exit from the customs union would mean a barrier to the business, a fairer and inclusive society was possible. Either the people were brainwashed by the media, or, they ignore to admit their true enemy- those who run the country by proxy, though the politicians. As for the Lib Dem’s, the least is said the better. Since the referendum results, although the Lib Dem’s aligned themselves as the party wholeheartedly opposing Brexit, nobody forgot their complicity in the 2010 elections and beyond the reaches of London, where Brexit debates continued to divide the communities and societies, Lib Dems was did not have enough influence in Westminster to be considered as an option.

I voted Remain and will stay a staunch Remainer, but of late I have felt resigned trying to stop Brexit. Especially, looking at the landscape of UK politics, I think that there are bigger fights to be fought than Brexit. It might appear my conviction towards staying a Remainer has dithered, but it has not. Because Brexit has never been a be-all or end-all to resolve the problems we face in society. Brexit is a catastrophic side effect of a far worse demon in British society. The inequality — inequality of wealth, justice, education. Affiliation to the EU didn’t end this, nor the secession will. And I repeat this phrase over and over again, “know your enemy”. Clearly, the 17.4 million who voted on the 23rd June 2016 to leave the EU, 99% of them thought their enemy was the European migrants who are taking away their jobs or the refugees fleeing the war-torn Middle East. Other 1% will benefit from Brexit, that’s why they wanted it and fuelled a campaign to create an enemy to convince the 99%. So, if I ask again, who is the enemy of society, we need to see who is actually gaining. And who is missing out? If we avoid many red herrings — EU migrants, asylum seekers, chavs, scrounges, Muslims, liberals etc. — created and spread by the usurpers, it leaves no doubt that all these divisive campaigns are run by people who own most of the wealth and are threatened by ideas to shake up the social structure. Needless to say that most of the hoarders of wealth supported the Conservatives and they are duly returned the favour by a government that works for the wealthy and would stoop to any low to maintain the unbalance in the society. Or worse, they help widen the gap that is already huge.

Since the result of the referendum came out in 2016, I have followed many forums, discussions, debates, arguments and there seemed to be a tremendous amount of self-righteousness in both camps. The Remainers were quick to blame the Leave voters’ intelligence, then the voters of the older generations and that derisive stance were maintained throughout the four and a half years of the campaign. There was a feeling as if, if you voted Leave, you are of below-par intelligence and therefore your opinion didn’t matter. This self-imposed sense of superiority not only bolstered the foolhardiness of the Leave voters but also, after a point it even made the Remain voters think that the government should march on and get done with Brexit. On the other side of the camp, certain voters have made informed decisions on why they voted Leave. It’s debatable if their source of information was true, but they spoke with conviction. For the rest, tabloids did the job. The constant vilification for the majority working-class Leave voters dealt a damning blow to the Brexit negotiations process. Whilst people didn’t get to have a final say on this, the more these people were demonised, the more resolute they became in their conviction of the cause of Brexit. Even if it was a misinformed decision on the referendum day, any subsequent votes and decisions were flared up by the derision in the media, of a London-centric Remain campaign that existed light-years away from the harsh realities of the austerity-stricken UK. And all their anger, all their indignation was reflected in the only way they could voice their views — in the ballot box. So make no mistake, every single vote since the referendum was about Brexit, and the results were catastrophic for Labour and what can be termed as progressive parties of British politics.

What also made me feel uncomfortable in supporting wholeheartedly some of the Remain campaigns is that the campaigns seemed to be circling around students as well as the urban population that is well educated and perhaps reaping the benefits of Britain’s membership with the EU more than some who were not. In the gatherings in London where over a million people had joined to demand a second referendum, people joined from all wakes of life. Yet, on a day to day basis, a working-class voice opposing Brexit appeared to be absent. Maybe there were groups I did not subscribe to, but most of the groups with a large number of subscribers contained mainly the mid-age and middle-class. And, the European citizens who were living in the UK and the UK immigrants in mainland Europe. Irrespective of their social situation, it is understandable that their world was turned upside down. People living here having to prove their right to stay in the country, or worse, fearing their family to be ripped apart in the post-Brexit Britain is in itself disgusting. And it is understandable about their frustration and anxiety and anger. But on the other hand, through these discussions and protests, an amount of empathy was lacking in the Remain side as well.

Brexit couldn’t have happened at a worse time than this year when we are already crippled by the pandemic. On one side, the government will be let off for their follies as their Brexit related blunders can be conveniently attributed to COVID. But it doesn’t take long to see through their scheming ways. Yet, there won’t be a public outcry for their mistakes. The most frustrating part at this time in British politics is that no matter how grave mistakes to Tories make, the public still shows no inclination to topple the government. So, despite the diminishing lead, if a general election is called tomorrow, we’ll still see a conservative government. Perhaps Labour wasn’t seen to be a trustworthy opposition.

So Brexit is done. We can feel angry, sad, disgusted about the situation, but we need to admit that on that fateful day of 23rd June 2016, a large number of people were duped to sign up for a future for this country that limits its potentials, will vastly affect the economy and employment as shutting factories bear the evidence, and the ill effects will resonate throughout generations to come. It was a dark moment. But where do we go from here?

The hint was left earlier in the essay, that we must know our enemy, and Brexit is not the be-all or end-all scenario it meant to be. The fightback has to begin soon and the oppositions will need to set their differences aside to unite for a fairer country, that this decade of Tory rule has brought to disrepute. The longer this government stays in power, the more they will thrust their unashamed draconian policies on to us to further deprive most of the population. It was a bit cringeworthy how many of the Remain campaigners rallied their support to Keir Starmer as the new Labour leader, whilst they criticised nonstop about Jeremy Corbyn. Was Keir a fitting successor to Jeremy? I’m not convinced yet. Whilst his eloquence is praiseworthy when compared to the yeah…but…no…but PM, it’s unclear what vision he holds for Labour, and certainly the leadership during the COVID situation and Brexit final negotiations don’t ooze confidence. But beyond the political process, we all have a role to play. In my view, the first stage would be to be humble and stop vilifying people who voted to leave. We all know Brexit was a big sham, and none of the promises can be met. But, the objective now must be to expose who is gaining from Brexit. Those who on the breadline fighting for survival or the cronies who are jumping ship faster one can bat his eyelids, either by emigrating to other countries to Europe or moving their businesses out of UK. The ECJ laws that we are so disgusted about, when they are lifted, whose living situations are going to worsen? The examples could be endless, but ultimately we need to fight back, and positively. So it’s not just about making other people aware of who the real enemy is, but also taking a moment to introspect. And above all, we need to be vigilant. There are millions of European citizens who chose to stay in this country. Multiculturalism is a blessing for our society and it is for us to sustain it and make it thrive. Anywhere we see someone being discriminated, bullied, threatened, we must stand up for them, as we have seen that the society is more divided than ever and people seem to be no longer hesitant of expressing their hateful behaviour.

The only solace is that we now have a confused Brexit, rather than the hard Brexit the Leave campaigners wanted. The amount of disruptions created by this whole process even though we have reached a deal with EU, I hope the government does not introduce further barriers to business and movements. Not having a hard Brexit had its benefits, but on the other hand, this has already earned the consternation of the Leavers. We have heard terms like BINO (Brexit In Name Only) and treating the situation to conjoined twins. The downside of this situation is that it still gives the Farage-followers something else to moan at and the political stalemate is unlikely to change with the ghost of Brexit still hung in the air. And this is why, it is important to eliminate such distractions so the opposition parties are united in their stand by the time next general election comes.

Brexit was the lowest of the low in British society in a long time. We can hope that things can only improve from here, but only if we work towards it. If we don’t and leave it to the rest, then there are worse things to come. Like I said at the beginning, Brexit paved the path for other dissenting members of the EU to leave, so we can only try to be the first country to stand in solidarity to prevent further fragmentation of our communities.

Joining back with the EU? Well, that’s a pipe dream, but the first step would be to ensure the well-being of the population that remained unheard. And don’t feel completely disheartened. You’ll have a bigger vacuum cleaner now. Now, brace yourselves for the Brexit Festival shitshow.