THE BLOG

Brexit Is A Crime Against Future Generations

30/03/2017 16:21 BST | Updated 30/03/2017 16:22 BST
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Picture the scene. You're sitting in your armchair two or three decades hence when your grandchild pipes up, "What did you do during the EU referendum campaign Grandad/Grandma?"

What is your answer? Will you be able to confirm that you made a stand for his or her future, that you stood in defence of common decency, solidarity, and diversity? Or will you find yourself having to admit that you were you one of those who embraced opportunism as the momentum of this right wing Brexit juggernaut grew so big it trampled every last scintilla of progressive politics underfoot?

Continuing with the Second World War theme, Brexit is not so much our Dunkirk as our Singapore, when over 80,000 British and Commonwealth troops surrendered to the Japanese in February 1942 with hardly a fight. It was and remains an ignominious event in British military history, one that left the name and repuation of the island's military commander, General Arthur Percival, in tatters.

Our General Percival is Jeremy Corbyn, a leader who not only surrendered to Brexit but even worse collaborated with it. Does anyone seriously believe that when the likes of George Galloway, Kate Hoey, and others were claiming during the referendum campaign that Corbyn was in truth a Eurosceptic who was only supporting Remain under pressure from his shadow cabinet they were lying?

The evidence, even without those claims, is damning enough. In the run-up to the EU referendum on June 23 last year, Corbyn conducted one of the most lacklusture and dispassionate political campaigns ever fought by a political leader anywhere. It left little doubt that he remained a firm and unshakable adherent of the Bennite anti-Europe position of the 1970s. But what he and his confidants failed catastrophically to appreciate is that this anti-EU current was driven, dominated, and led by the right not the left, and has given us not a Tony Benn exit from Europe but one drawn up, fashioned, and inspired by the ugly, rancid politics of Nigel Farage and UKIP. The pro-Brexit left in this regard were and remain but a mouse riding the back of a right wing tiger, riding it in the futile hope that they might be able to control it as it plunges ever-deeper into a jungle of xenophobia, nativism, and atavistic British nationalism.

The aforemenioned George Galloway is somebody long associated with the left who went further than merely riding the tiger's back. He did so while massaging its back, prancing around a stage with Nigel Farage, the two of them chortling like a couple of old golfing buddies. "Left-right, left-right, all the way to victory!" Galloway boomed, much to the delight of every unreconstructed xenophobe in the land.

But Galloway is not the only opportunist and charlatan Brexit has regurgitated. How about Boris Johnson, a man who in the tradition of Shakespeare's Macbeth unsheathed and plunged the political knife into his Old Etonian rival, David Cameron, with his last minute volte face from Remain to Brexit. The objective was Cameron's soon-to-be old gig in Number Ten. Instead he's had to make do with foreign secretary. Such are the wages of sin.

As for the Prime Minister, Theresa May, this solid Remainer in a past life is now so determined to hitch the country to her back and take a flying leap of the Brexit cliff, and do so sans parachute, that she is willing to risk the break up of the United Kingdom in the process.

This is where we come to those from among the political class to have emerged from this Brexit swamp with clean hands. A small group and prime among them is Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Her speech the morning after the referendum, in which she delivered a message of solidarity and assurance to EU citizens living in Scotland, should never be forgotten. It came as a desperately needed rejoinder to the effluvium of anti-migrant hostility that has unconscionably achieved mainstream prominence in our time. Likewise, Tim Farron has been a voice of sanity over these past few months, as has Anna Soubry of the Conservatives. Those three have manned the barricades of honour and decency over these past few difficult months, which none should ever forget.

But apart from those we have borne witness to betrayal, capitulation, and opportunism in equal measure. Indeed, as we get ready to be dragged off the edge of this Brexit cliff, it is hard to gainsay the sage words of Scotland's national bard Rabbie Burns when arriving at a proper rendering of Britain's Brexiteers.

To paraphrase:

We're bought and sold for Brexit gold

Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!