Pretty much all the destructive forces that were foretold by experts pre-Brexit were in fact unleashed. Just look how eerily correct Nick Clegg was in his forecast. The UK is already a poorer country, the pound has fallen considerably, and we now face a new recession. Companies in the UK are looking to relocate into the EU so they can continue to trade with ease. Both the UK and the EU are now facing the prospects of disintegration, with Scotland finding it difficult to abide with England and Wales pressing the self-destruct button. Immigrants are feeling unloved and are already being targeted with horrendous racist abuse. Educated and young voters are grieving for their lost futures, and struggling to identify with the newly narrowed mentality in the UK. Universities, like many other organisations, are attempting to reassure and protect their members from the impact of loss of EU membership. And those least able to afford the ensuing economic downturn will be expected to pay all over again, immediately after their sacrifices following the Great Recession (because elites never have to pay for this kind of thing). And all this, as the austerity programme that has decimated those very same communities and contributed to the anger that led to Brexit vote continues. Imagine the rage and despair of the marginalised as they discover food prices increasing (the pound has fallen and buys less overseas food on which we heavily rely), while immigration and NHS funding remain roughly the same.
As an intellectual pretending not to know what was going on, Boris the 'Brexiter' looked genuinely frightened, not triumphant, on the Friday morning of the referendum result. Because, as Nick Clegg and others knew very clearly, there is no plan of what to do next. Other 'Brexiters' are now waking up with a hangover after the recklessness of the night before. Given the incredible anger of the disenfranchised - first facing decades of neoliberally engineered economic decline, and now approaching a decade of life sapping austerity - in hindsight the referendum was always going to be about taking pot shots at elites. We then have to wonder about how much of this was about scarcely conscious, latent destructive forces in society being unleashed by a reckless referendum. And I mean the lack of awareness of elites here too (who should know better), not just the downtrodden. Consider this:
A) All of the fallout was entirely predictable and loudly pronounced for all to hear before the referendum.
B) No one in their right mind would really want to inflict this much self-harm.
C) Tellingly, many Brexiters now feel guilty and regretful about their self-identified carelessness.
It does seem then we have unleashed the murky destructive impulses that are said to lie beneath the surface of all societies. The best we can do currently is acknowledge this strange kind of UK-wide "death wish". Only then does our sense of impending doom and abandonment begin to make sense, as well as clues about how to rise from the ashes emerge.
Now the good news: decisions are reversible. We can actually row back from the edge of this cliff. We have looked into the abyss, and we can say that we want to take a more positive approach instead. We can work together, however imperfectly, to find ways forward out of this mess (a bit like the original purpose of the EU). Inventively, very bright people are pointing out that a referendum (especially an ill-judged and misleading one) does not bind us to a Brexit. So, it is time to acknowledge the collective destruction and fear, and find the creative solutions that exist within this scenario. Resourcefulness, after all, is what we do best in the UK.
Views are entirely my own.
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