The UK’s EU referendum result is a reckless leap in the dark
In the early stages of the European Union referendum when everyone knew a lot less about the respective cases for staying or leaving, it was suggested that the choice essentially boiled down to a simple one. If you are risk averse vote to Remain. If you like taking risks vote to Leave. There was also a feeling- and nothing more tangible than a feeling- that when it came down to the wire more people would end up voting Remain and not taking that risk. These sorts of things were dismissed by hard core campaigners (from both sides) who said we should and would vote on the real long term serious political and economic issues. Trouble is nowadays with social media spreading ideas like wildfire most people don’t do that. Most people vote based either on one particular issue that it niggling them or else on little more than gut feelings. In that respect the result is no more than a reckless leap in the dark, an expression of an optimistic `grass is greener on the other side` view. I’m sure there were just as many Leave voters who had nervous stomachs on hearing the results this morning as those who voted Remain. As is already becoming apparent nobody actually knows what will happen now. The mechanism is clear enough- the soon to be ubiquitous Article 50- but the economic and social repercussions of operating that mechanism are not.
I am profoundly disappointed in the overall result though pleased that the city in which I live, Liverpool, was one of the handful of Northern cities that voted to Remain. The North has fared the worst in the last thirty or more years. What has saved and sustained Liverpool in this time has not been UK governments but the support and financial help that comes from the country being a member of the European Union. What will happen in future to other UK cities that fall into decline I don’t know but one thing you can be sure of is that little of this much vaunted `extra money` will head our way. Why a lot of other Northern or Midlands cities voted to Leave I do not understand. Perhaps some people misinterpreted the referendum as an opportunity to kick the government, a very short term outlook that could let down future generations including their own children.
What other EU countries’ leaders should be doing is finding out why the UK voted like this lest our so called Brexit becomes the start of the end of the EU. Some opposition leaders in other member states have already called for their own referenda and it would be a foolish EU that simply waves goodbye to the UK and thinks that is the end of the trouble. A fuse has been lit and it will not just burn out- it is heading their way. Ironically after all the talk of reform, it could just be that Britain’s greatest influence on the EU comes because we’re leaving it.
As no experts are yet willing to call the shape of the UK over the next two to three years you’ll certainly not find an amateur observer like me trying to do so but some of the predictions that surfaced today are listed below for your terror / amusement depending which side you’re on. The entire mess brings to mind that well worn expression which suddenly seems very appropriate – be careful what you wish for.
Some of the suggestions that have been made today about what could happen now we’ve voted to leave the EU though Boris will tell you it’ll all be fine, no worries etc. For once I hope he’s right.
· # The break- up of the UK caused by a united Ireland and independent Scotland
· # Recession and austerity
· # Rising interest rates and lower wages
· # Workers’ rights legislation stripped back
· # Higher prices
· # The end of the Labour party as an influential political force replaced by UKIP
· # Conservative governments forever
· # London becoming a self governing state