Could Brexit Win Over This Sceptic?
Facts first. Every economist agrees that Brexit is starting to cost millions, possibly billions. The economy is slowing, house prices are falling, the pound is weaker, there’s no extra money for the NHS, no more EU grants for deprived areas, and we are inches from recession even prior to the triggering of Article 50.
How does it affect us on the ground? I’m of the generation that was commanded to save, and like a mug I did as I was told, so that’s me screwed. Like millions of others I have an EHIC which entitles me to free healthcare in Europe. This may have to be surrendered – but there are a lot of ‘mays’ right now, including one running the country who may negotiate that part in.
The upside? A feelgood factor based on nothing at all. So why do I feel less outraged than I did about a mainly working class protest vote driven by racism and fear of the country being full up? (see fig.2)
Because I wonder whether people do need to feel that they’ve reclaimed something – however intangible – for themselves. Feeling upbeat is a surprisingly tangible commodity when it comes to the stock market. And a strong economy doesn’t always mean grassroots improvements. City centres don’t get nicer just because exports are up. Look at any of our coastal towns. Or rather, don’t. I watched Ken Russell’s ‘French Dressing’ the other day, set in Herne Bay in the sixties (where part of ‘Goldfinger’ is located) when it looked like the Cote D’Azur compared to the pissed-up pensioners’ dogging ground it is now.
And as the idea of the nanny state is abandoned, perhaps, as in parts of Europe, we could learn to do things for ourselves. Certainly, no-one has argued about politics so much in 30 years. I joked about Millennials here, but I’ve great admiration for the start-up companies and pop-ups that they’ve created with minimal resources and maximum creativity.
Perhaps, if we ignore boring things like facts and predictions, we could parlay this new hard-won self-reliance into a fresh sense of community and innovation. The worst characters have left. After creeping off to America to advise Haystack Head on how to run his campaign and then vanish, Farridge will presumably creep back to the suburbs, where Hell is still Other People, and BoJo has been shuffled off to endless embassy dinners in Bongo Bongo Land, as he’ll doubtless refer to one shortly in a sherry-fuddled speech.
That just leaves us with the one person who stands against everything a new spirit of enterprise might summon up, ‘Jeremy ‘Back To The Future’ Corbyn. I can only hope that the Ayatollah of Primark fatally succumbs to one of the photo-ops he loves so dearly, be it lying in a train corridor or flashing his furs, and totally forgets to engage any member of the opposition in any meaningful debate at all – but of course he already did that during Brexit. That faint squeaking noise we heard was his first opposition speech. Owen Smith will ‘get round the table’ with ISIS, emerging headless, and we’ll get back to doing what we were once best at, punching above our weight and telling everyone else ‘No thanks, I can manage’, and not doing the job terribly well.
Millennials won’t remember but in the seventies we had a catchphrase – ‘It may be rubbish, but it’s British rubbish.’ It’s still too early to call yet, but so far the sky hasn’t fallen in. Now, if only it would become the limit.