One of the basic questions in the test for dementia is whether you know the name of the prime minister. But at the moment I think mum can be forgiven for not knowing who’s in charge. Like many people in UK we’ve been in shock since the results of the referendum to leave the European Union were announced. In fact, the situation is so momentous I really have to blog about it.
Both mum and I voted to remain in Europe. As we live in an area with a high proportion of Leave voters I know for a fact that many people thought leaving the EU would magically improve aspects of their lives which had nothing to do with Europe at all. Of course, some people will have voted Leave after serious thought. I hope for all our sakes that their assessment of the situation may prove correct – but it’s not looking that way at the moment.
It’s become clear that David Cameron, who’s just resigned as Prime Minister, didn’t expect to lose the referendum – and that Boris Johnson, his rival in the Leave campaign, didn’t expect to win. It gets better. There’s no strategy in place for leaving the EU; no one even knows who’s going to be on the negotiating team. This huge event has happened and the people who should be dealing with it seem to be in as much shock as the rest of us. The whole thing was to do with internal politics of the ruling elite and now the rest of us have to pay the price.
The win, which was by a margin of less than 2%, has revealed a huge fault line running through UK society. People say we must pull together, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that it was such a close result. Many people have remarked they’ve heard better and more sensible debates about the issues involved in the last few days than in all the weeks leading up to the referendum, which was marred by venial and spiteful lies.
I think one reason Leave won was that they seized control of the discourse. And they should not be allowed to do that again. Already, one of the oft repeated slogans is that this has been a victory for ‘ordinary decent people’ – as if the 16 million plus people who voted Remain were not decent, were not ordinary. As if there are 16 million bankers and industrialists opposed to those decent people who voted Leave. I do find this personally offensive.
However, it’s too late now. What should never have happened has happened and we have to live with the consequences. Those of us who wanted to be Europeans can be so no longer. But when mum says she doesn’t know who’s running the country, I can assure her: no one else knows either!