Radio Five Live’s ‘Brexit Barometer’ has been an almighty turn-off for me. Hour upon hour of the same dreary debates we have had ever since we made the disastrous decision to leave the EU. “Why can’t they just get on with it?” is the most frequent question from the Brexiters. “We voted to leave. It’s the will of the people”. The Brexiters seem to be the most bored by this endless sage, but should they be? They voted for exactly this.
It was only the opportunistic leave campaigners who gave credibility to the lie that leaving the EU would be so easy. It would be “the easiest deal in human history”. Except it isn’t. It’s proving to be the hardest.
The callers on Five Live were under the impression that it will all be over once we leave the EU at the end of March. And many of them seemed to be of the view that ‘no deal’ would mean things carrying on exactly as they are now. If my hair had been long enough, I’d have torn it all out this week.
Brexit will occupy not just the foreseeable future, it will occupy the unforeseeable future. Once we have left Europe, it will all be about future arrangements in every aspect of our lives. It will be hugely costly and it will all be about either self-harm or trying to ensure the damage to our country will be as minimal as possible. It is not about making things better. It is about making things less worse.
Voters in Clacton were interviewed by the Guardian today and spoke with real honesty. They did not feel ‘European’, they were English. We had managed before the EU, we would manage after we left. We managed in World War Two, didn’t we? And in a nutshell, they expressed the reality that runs through the majority of leave campaigners: English nationalism. Not British or UK wide. English nationalism.
Why can’t we get on with it? Because it’s impossible. The Brexit you wanted is hugely complicated and will keep governments busy for a decade and probably more. Expect many years of Brexit Barometer. You ain’t seen nothing yet.