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Brexit – heroes of the silly season

August 6, 2019

Carole Cadwalladr

We British are in the middle of what used to be called the silly season – a time of year when most politicians are on holiday and inactivity on the political front once led to newspapers struggling to find content other than stories of predatory seagulls, divorcing celebrities and footballers getting wasted in Malaga.

Not so this year. We are being subjected to wall-to-wall electioneering by our new government, unconstrained by the spending limits prescribed by election law. Spending promises, photo opportunities and the novelty of a bombastic liar at 10 Downing Street gleefully playing with the levers of the state.

Meanwhile people who keep our country running – not least our health service – are preparing to return to their own countries. Those who remain feel threatened and unappreciated. And our law-abiding minorities live in fear of racist abuse and actual violence from thugs who are encouraged by the tide of open xenophobia sweeping across Europe and the United States.

I could accept our leaving the European Union if it wasn’t being propelled under false pretences by wealthy interests with nothing to lose and much to gain. I could respect the “will of the people” if the process had not empowered those driven by hatred, envy and malice. If it had not spawned a huge community of emotionally incontinent online trolls. If we had not been conditioned to believe any old nonsense we are fed by journalists and editors who have forgotten their professional obligation to check their facts, and by pop-up pundits for whom telling the truth is an inconvenience to be avoided.

Whichever version of the truth we accept or reject, we are appear to be in a world in which how we feel is more important than sober consideration of the consequences of those feelings.

I have little to say about Brexit that I haven’t already said over the past three years. I haven’t written about Boris Johnson and his abomination of a government because many people more talented and coherent than me have already spoken for the millions of who deplore our country’s lurch to the far right and toward the precipice of a no-deal Brexit.

But it surely does no harm to pipe up occasionally and reiterate that I have not changed my mind about the folly in which we are currently engaged, unlike so many of the Conservative members and MPs who have joined Johnson in his colossal gamble with our stability and prosperity.

As the extent of the manipulation via the social media of the British (and American) electorates in 2016 becomes more widely known, the verdict of the “people” seems ever more unsafe. The failure, for whatever reason, of the police to prosecute electoral crimes that might invalidate the EU referendum, seems more than ever like a coup d’etat.

Yet, despite the efforts of dissenting voices in the print and broadcast media, we are being led to believe that Brexit is a matter of when rather than if.

So I for one will keep banging my drum, no matter what happens between now and October 31st. I may be a nobody whose voice is heard mainly when I loudly curse my incompetence on the golf course, but there others (much as I appreciate your reading or following this blog) whose opinions count more than mine and who are worth reading if, like me, you are in a dual state of despair at the present and tentative hope for the future.

These are people who cross the political, social and professional spectrum. I may not share their views on all subjects, but I admire their energy and, in some cases, courage, in speaking out against the no-deal Brexit madness. They are the antibodies fighting the virus that currently afflicts us.

Carole Cadwalladr – journalist

Matthew Parris – journalist, author, former Conservative MP

David Allen Green – lawyer

Jess Phillips – Labour MP

Jo Maugham – lawyer

Ian Dunt – journalist

James O’Brien – journalist and broadcaster

Fintan O’Toole – journalist and author

Alistair Campbell – journalist and former political advisor

Simon Schama – historian

Rory Stewart – Conservative MP

Gary Lineker – TV presenter, ex-footballer

Dominic Grieve – Conservative MP

Tom Watson – Labour MP

Tony Blair – former Prime Minister

John Major – former Prime Minister

This, if you like, is my roll of honour. There are plenty of others who have spoken out against Brexit – not least the six million who signed the petition to revoke Article 50. If we avoid the precipice, and emerge with a settlement to this nasty dispute that satisfies most of us and leaves my country in a better place, these are the people I will thank.

And finally, a special mention for Jonathan Coe, a son of Birmingham, my beloved home town. I’ve just finished his latest novel Middle England, in which he deals with the contradictions and baleful consequences of the 2016 referendum with a compassion that reminds me that this saga is about human beings, not cardboard cut-outs of goodies and baddies.

There are three months left to prevent what is being portrayed as inevitable. I hope we use them well.

From → Books, Politics, Social, UK

  1. I agree 100% with every single word.

    • Good to know Ronnie. But surely not 100% – you’ve never heard me howling on the golf course!

  2. How did you get inside my head?

  3. …. and will you be my spokesperson in my LUST for power – no golf though…

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