David Bell, retired TV director from the Pewsey Vale, knew very little about the EU when we were all called upon to decide whether we wanted to be IN or OUT. Four weeks before Brexit the indecision has been a bewildering spectacle. David explains why the decision should be put back to the people.
I have to own up to the fact that before ‘Brexit’ suddenly became a household word in 2016, I had a limited interest in the EU. I had an EHIC card, which entitled me to health provision in any European country I happened to be travelling in (which made me feel secure, even though I never had to use it!). My daughter was able to study in Spain under a wonderful European exchange scheme called Erasmus. Other than that, the EU always seemed a bit bureaucratic.
The referendum was a bit of a wake-up call. Suddenly it was important that I knew which way to vote. It was a simple choice: IN or OUT. It should have been easy. The facts were apparently straightforward; the statistics printed on the side of a large bus and endlessly hammered home on news bulletins night after night until everyone was bored stiff.
Of course we were being offered what is now known as ‘fake news’, bankrolled by big campaign donors with dodgy backgrounds and murky political agendas. We didn’t know this at the time. Boris Johnson (once he’d decided – almost at the toss of a dice – which side to fight for) emerged as the Brexit champion, squaring up in the ring opposite his old Etonian mate Dave. Cameron, meanwhile, was constantly shown rolling up his shirtsleeves and ‘getting on with the job’, quietly confident of an easy victory.
What great political theatre! Inevitably someone had to win: it was so simple. IN or OUT.
And with just under 4% more voters preferring OUT to IN, Brexit got under way.
At this point it slowly began to be apparent that no one agreed about anything. Not in the country, not in Parliament, not even in the Cabinet. The infighting started, the resignations came thick and fast, and the negotiations revealed complications about Brexit that hadn’t even been touched on during the referendum debate. 32 months down the line, and with just over 4 weeks to go until Brexit Day, the arguments rage on and the lack of a clear way forward is just astonishing.
At least we do now know a LOT more about what leaving the EU means than we did 32 months ago. We know what the deal is. We know that this deal (bar a possible tiny bit of tinkering) is the only deal. We know that the deal is only the beginning of years of further negotiations. We know that the deal may WELL never get through Parliament. And we know what NO deal means, and that the vast majority of MPs see no deal as catastrophic for the country and the economy.
We also know that the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU are actually more favourable than most of the other members! Dominic Raab (remember him – he was in charge of Brexit briefly?) pointed out after resigning that May’s deal would be ‘worse’ than staying in the EU. And he is an ardent fan of Brexit!
Based on all this knowledge, and given the absurd and impenetrable impasse amongst our politicians, it must surely be best for all of us – leavers and remainers – to choose a sane, dignified and democratic way forward. Now we really know what Brexit means, give it back to the electorate for a final, properly informed, decision. Sign it off/ratify it/throw it out: let’s just get this over with.
David Bell, 19 February 2019
Our next event Brexit: your health, your food, your job is on Friday 1st March 7.30. Free event, but booking is essential. READ MORE