Yup, a non-gaming topic. Being British, I’d like to take a moment here.
Whatever your views on Britain exiting the European Union, you cannot deny it is a significant event in world politics.
My views on Brexit have always been mixed – I’ve long believed that the EU Experiment was one doomed to fail; not because we’re different, but because one-size-fits-all economics has proven to be a disaster. Had Greece been allowed to exit the EU, its currency would have temporarily been devalued – which would have led to exports being cheap, such as Olive Oil, Wine and other luxury Mediterranean goods. More people would have bought these cheaper goods across the world. This would create demand. Which would lead to needing more people working in industries to meet demand – money rolls in, jobs are made and the economy, after a time, stabilises and grows. This is basic economics – and it utterly escaped even the most astute of financial minds within the EU. The U.S. has many cities still on the poverty line – testament that economic union does not benefit everyone equally.
That said, I acknowledged that Britain had a role to play in Europe. Whilst we’ve never been bosom-buddies with our continental neighbours (our long history a clear demonstration of that), one thing that I did feel was that we needed some unity between us. As the EU falters and the Euro collapses, we’d be there – like we have for centuries – to pick up the pieces and help put things back together. It’s a curiously British thing; the need for destruction married to the need to rebuild. But I often wonder if the Americans inherited that with their efforts in the Middle East the last fifteen years…
David Cameron had gone seeking change and assurance and had been told in EU terms to assume the position and go pleasure himself running. The EU, in its hubris, didn’t see the need for change. Until of course the day AFTER Brexit. Go figure.
The margin was tight though; a 52/48 percent split in favour of leaving.
What was clear was a cavernous divide in Britain; the metropolitan, wealthy areas voted in favour of staying, whilst poorer areas of the country – sadly everywhere else that isn’t a major city hub – voted in favour of leaving. People are looking at this in terms of the EU and Britain’s position in the world, but what I realised was just how divided we had become as a nation. The wealthier city-folk in nine-to-five office jobs versus the country folk slaving away for fifteen hours a day on farmlands and in dead-end jobs just to make ends meet and provide for supermarkets and businesses across the country. The mood of the country has been teetering on the brink of what in the past could have sparked civil war. Thankfully for our Government, we have gun laws…
Britain sits in a perilous position – not on the world stage, because that was scaremongering even President Obama had to go back on today in the wake of the vote. It faces a deep-rooted divide within its own people; the working class versus the middle classes and upper classes. We’d like to think as a country we have done away with a class system; but truth is, we haven’t and it has been an ever-present thorn in the side of politics for decades. People just see people working manual labour jobs and farming jobs and think they’re “too stupid” to do what they do – but of course, they’d never stoop down to that level, and probably would end up having a nervous breakdown if they had to. But then, the lower classes look at the middle class and think they’ve gone soft – afraid of change, afraid of breaking a nail or throwing a punch, afraid of any and all confrontation – insulated from the realities of what puts food on their plate and milk in their tea.
Having a large familial contingent in Cornwall, I know that I was one of the few who didn’t make their mind up until the day of the vote. I knew they’d vote leave. My grandfather – a farm labourer who died some years ago now – lamented how hard farming had become, how cheaply things had to be sold, how people just assumed he’d cut corners to cut costs – something he blamed the Mad Cow Disease crisis on, of course. I used to have a string of uncles and cousins who worked on the coasts of Cornwall, fishing. With the Common Fisheries Policy, Catch Quotas and Restricted Fishing Rights, most were out of work by the turn of the millennium, as outside trawlers had priority in our once fertile waters. I have grown up realising how much damage the EU was doing to agriculture in a country that was predominantly about agriculture – is it any real wonder why Cornwall was getting an additional £6 million a year from the EU? Our way of life, in a generation, was destroyed. And whilst we had tourism still – that’s a seasonal thing for three, maybe four months in a year. What do you do for the rest?
And despite my personal issues with my family, I’d never claim they were stupid. For their reality was and is far removed from the same reality of someone in, say, London or Manchester. Our views and our lives are shaped by our daily reality. I’m disabled and my daily reality is hating Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron for stripping away services and financial aid that are desperately needed by many. Many of today’s youth voters under the age of, say, 24, haven’t had time to see the realities of the country. And in a sense, that’s how it should be. “Your youth should be idealistic, your middle age should be pragmatic, and your old age should be savoured.” That’s something I remember my late maternal grandmother saying. I’m not sure if it’s a quote from something, but it’s only hitting my middle age – and accepting my dwindling mortality – that I understand something of what she meant. Enjoy your youth, prepare in your middle age and enjoy what you have left after retirement. Except I’ve had to expedite the enjoyment of what is left.
Thing is, many Metropolitans are angry at the rest of the country. How DARE we have a different reality to theirs! How DARE we have hope and optimism! And now the rest are rising to say, “How DARE you talk down to us, in your cushy jobs and swanky city apartments!”
See what I mean about class issues?
I don’t think Britain will suffer much outside the EU. The bulk of our economy is financial services, and outside the EU we’re likely to be quite the tax haven from the EU (has worked out well for the Swiss, hasn’t it?). The majority of our trade is outside of the EU. We buy more from the EU than we send. And whilst yes, the Pound Sterling will have a rough road the coming weeks, months and years – it will bounce back. Heck, after a steep drop, it already recovered significantly. In one day. Regardless of what Europe things, or the world, we are an essential country for commerce and finance and to abandon us would be the dumbest decision they’d ever make. It’d be bad for us, them and the stock markets.
But one thing is abundantly clear – the EU Vote, to me, is a side show. A spectacle. Look at the figures, look at the voting, where it comes from, how it came to be… and you’ll still see an enormous cultural and class divide, live and alive, thriving in Britain today. Scotland and Northern Ireland are beneficiaries of large financial sums from the EU; their loyalty to the EU isn’t surprising, because ultimately it has been bought – in spirit, if not intentionally. As a neighbour joked to me yesterday, “Scotland doesn’t want to be governed by Westminster because it’s too far away… I am no good at geography, but I am pretty sure Brussels is further south than London…” In other words; distance isn’t the problem, even though they claim it to be.
What is needed now is to fix our broken country. We are a nation divided; two halves living worlds apart.
And whatever the result of the Referendum, what we need to do is heal our own wounds before we try to help heal anyone elses. It is essential that we fix our own mess before we try picking up the increasingly sharp pieces of a European Union that has for years been teetering on the brink of disaster. How can we lecture anyone on unity, strength and democracy when all three are at risk in our own damn country?
Brexit isn’t and shouldn’t be about isolationism. However, in the short term, whoever takes over from Hameron… sorry, P.M. Cameron… whoever takes over faces a daunting task. On the one hand – they need to have the confidence and wit to be able to play the Global Field. And on the other… they’ve got to heal a rift that has been fermenting for decades, and is now at risk of fracturing our once lovely and friendly country into pieces. I don’t think that’s Boris Johnson – lovely he may be, but he’s just a bit too goof-prone for either of those things. And he doesn’t really have the world or ministerial experience to bluff it either. Whoever it is, they’re facing the most thankless and daunting role in British Politics since… well, 1939. And I hope, for future generations, whoever we eventually end up with as Prime Minister is adequately prepared for the immense challenge ahead of them. It’s a bit late for people like me. I won’t see the complete fallout.
But the data is speaking volumes. Now is not the time to shout at each other… now is the time to listen to what has already been said and do something about it. We’re always good at talking and debating and even shouting at each other – our Parliament demonstrates all of that. But people today always want the last word. They always want to be right.
Brexit is done. People voted. They had their say. Now shut up and do something about it.