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The Brexit Honeymoon Is Over

15/05/2017 12:06

Is it possible to write anything on Brexit that hasn't already been said?

Well, I'll try. I'm nothing if not game when it comes to throwing my hat into the whirlpool of political opinion. Almost a year on from the referendum it strikes me that now is the time for a little housekeeping on that most polarising of issues.

Macron has triumphed in France and many of my political persuasion will agree that this is great occasion for progressive politics. The emergence of the alt-right, or 'fascists' as we used to call them, has been dealt a terrific blow by a country deciding when push came to shove that the national motto "liberty, equality, fraternity" still meant something.

A beatific smile crossed my face at the thought that not only was this a splendid day for France and Europe but that it made Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn awkward in equal measure.

There's nothing Corbyn loathes more than a Blairite by proxy, and Monsieur Macron qualifies with his centrist, globalist views. It actually took Corbyn two tries to be congratulate the President-to-be on his success. His first, in typical mealy-mouthed Corbyn fashion, congratulated the French on the fact that they chose to reject fascism...actually ignoring the actual candidate who actually won.

Theresa May was among the first to offer her congratulations, but one can wholeheartedly imagine her gazing pensively into the fire on that most chilly of evenings in the knowledge that Macron swore to be tough on Britain in Brexit negotiations to protect the interests of the remaining members of the European Union.

So Monsieur Macron's arrival has shaken things up, to say the least. And I'm glad. I'm afraid I'm one of those appalling lefties decried by the right-wing press as being positively gleeful that Brussels is cracking down on us for throwing our toys out of our big, ugly, nationalist pram.

Because, to me, Brexit was only ever about jingoism, fear and insular vision, which is why it made me laugh that Remain was labelled "Project Fear" by the right-wing press. For surely that title should have gone to the Brexit campaigners that warned we'd never be able to reclaim rule of Britannia. Now they have that, so they should be happy, right?

Actually, no.

A new survey suggests that over half of UK residents are MORE fearful for the UK's future since the Brexit referendum.

The poll of nearly 700 people by consumer website MoneyMagpie.com finds that the possibility of significant job losses and spiralling costs that could result from leaving the EU -- something that the Remain campaign did try to point out amidst all the frantic flag-waving -- has left some 53 per cent of respondents feeling "less optimistic" about the nation's prospects than 12 months ago.

A similar number now think the decision to hold a referendum in the first place was a "really bad idea", while almost half admit to being unhappier since the die was cast last June.

Yes, hindsight really is a wonderful thing. Jasmine Birtles, founder of MoneyMagpie.com and a respected personal finance pundit, reckons the research -- commissioned to examine the nation's feelings towards Brexit on the eve of the referendum's first anniversary -- suggests that many Brits are now "waking up" to the realities of Brexit.

She explains: "Back in 2016 the 'Leave' campaign promised that a break with the EU would lead to greater financial prosperity and security for Britain.

"Almost one year later, it seems than many people are now feeling less confident and happy about a future outside of Europe. Consumers have already felt the first early shocks from Brexit with the weakening of the pound and migration of businesses away from the UK. Over half now fear that things will get much harder in the years to come."

With our own elections just around the corner, it somewhat sticks in the craw that, despite rising regrets over Brexit among the electorate, both of the main parties are doggedly determined to rip us out of the EU.

Maybe they should note another finding of the survey, that if there was a second referendum on Brexit then the results would be reversed, with 50 per cent saying they would vote to remain and 44 per cent still choosing to leave -- an eight per cent drop from the 2016 results.

Jasmine sums it up perfectly: "The Brexit honeymoon period looks like it has well and truly come to an end".

It seems the view from the bridge of the Good Ship Brexit is looking decidedly stormy for some. Not quite what they were imagining.

I hope it will teach us a lesson, but I fear not. Unlike France, we don't have a national motto, but based on past form I'd suggest "Why did I just do that?".

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