THE BLOG
14/12/2018 13:53 GMT | Updated 14/12/2018 13:53 GMT

Dear Prime Minister, Step Back From Brexit And Look Around: Your Country Is On Fire

In the midst of Brexit chaos, the health service is under huge strain, schools are falling apart, crime is on the increase, and climate catastrophe approaches.

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For those who are bored of Brexit, I agree. For those who are angry because of Brexit, I agree. For those who are homeless, who are being taught in schools that are falling apart, for those breathing poisonous air, or being forced onto universal credit and for those who are waiting for cancer treatment in our strained NHS…how is Brexit working for you? Watching Theresa May kick the can down the road yet again and save her own political career, rather than think about the people who actually live in the country, has made me so angry that I genuinely believe I could get that can into orbit.

I voted Remain for one simple reason: I was adamant that leave would not bring anything but chaos. This was not because I thought MPs were going to thwart the will of the people or because I thought the EU would be difficult, but I was fully aware that balancing the needs of our economy with why people voted to leave looked physically impossible. And for those who say that leaving on World Trade Organisation rules or putting together a Canada plus deal will be worth it in the long run, how do you know?

Jacob Rees-Mogg is worth up to £150 million pounds and confesses to having never changed a nappy. Having fathered six children you have to ask, how does he know what the average mother or father will face after we leave? And Boris Johnson, whose real name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and is an Eton alumni and the descendant of aristocracy, is of course he is fully aware of the trials a family from Cardiff face when both parents are holding down several zero hours contracts so they can feed their three children at the local food bank. I would not trust these privileged men with a country fete, let alone the ‘will of the people’.

I have found myself agreeing with politicians who I have never been agreed with in the past. Lord Heseltine and Anna Soubry are right, young people are never going to forgive politicians if they get this wrong. And what is with the ongoing military World War II rhetoric? As Rachel Parris pointed out in the Mash Report, people died in that war. It wasn’t all singing ‘we’ll meet again’ while the Dambusters brought the economic heartland of Germany to its knees. Harry Leslie Smith, a veteran of World War II and the Great Depression, rightly accuses our politicians of surrendering the values of his generation, those values that came from the experiencing the horrors of World War II.

Do Tory politicians not understand how disgusting they sound when they compare Brexit to a genocidal war? Along with many ‘snowflake’ millennials, I am unlikely to forgive the Tory party for this one. Had to tear a country apart to keep their party together. I’m sure that they think it was worth it – but I don’t and nor do the thousands of people you made homeless.

For those who have been watching the BBC documentary ‘School’, you will have seen the awful situation schools are in. Buildings are falling apart, cost cutting has become the central focus of most schools and it is children who are most affected. The largest impact is (as always) on the most vulnerable, those with complex needs that require more support. The recent Love our Colleges campaign showed the impact that cuts have had on the education of the 2.2 million people who access Further Education every year, with an average 30% cut for colleges across the country. All you ever hear from the government is how there is more money spent on schools than ever before (which is a questionable statement at best), so while our education system faces one of the largest teacher shortages in living memory, I can only sit in dismay and confusion as the endless hours of Brexit coverage blindly take us from one non-moment to another.

The health service is under huge amounts of strain. Relying on large numbers of foreign workers, the continued discussion of migrant workers is making potential employees wary of coming to the UK. The Institute for Public Policy Research made it clear that the NHS would collapse if it wasn’t for migrant workers, both from the EU and further afield. You just have to use the NHS target tracker on the BBC to see the huge numbers of targets being missed, and the increased risk you face if you get sick. If we keep this up, no one will want to work here and who would blame them? If we do not fix this ASAP people will die (if they haven’t already).

Crime is on the increase. The police are under strain and, as a teacher in an inner city college, every time I hear of a stabbing or shooting in Birmingham my mind wanders to that gut-wrenching ‘what if?’ scenario – how would I handle the situation that one my students could be the victim? And as someone who has had to deal with the aftermath of a student death in the past, I know how it impacts upon all people around them, even if they did not know them that well. While the government continues to fight with itself over the technicalities of Northern Ireland, people are actually dying.

Recent analysis shows we have twelve years to stop a climate catastrophe. I watched David Attenborough give an impassioned speech on the risks we face and what he has seen during his long and amazing career. He faced a room full of politicians that at best looked bored, and at worst were rudely indifferent, to the huge and monumental challenge our planet faces. The climate is changing, the weather is becoming more extreme but at least we will have the ability to set our own trade deals as London plunges into the sea and we can go to the seaside in Leicester.

I agree that Brexit is important, and I know what Leave means. I understand 17.4 million people voted to remove the UK from the EU but with 16.1 million voting to stay, that does not look particularly resounding. And younger people do need a say, because they are the ones who will be affected the longest.

As we drag this whole nightmare scenario out, we also must remember hospitals are struggling to recruit, schools are falling apart, crime is on the rise and one in two hundred people in this country are considered homeless. Brexit can mean whatever you want it to mean but right now it means people are suffering and, potentially, dying. So stop the World War II rhetoric and pick up a hose – this country is on fire and we need our politicians pointing the water at the burning building, not at each other.