3. The Great Unknown

8 10 2016

Brexit Blog 3:  The Great Unknown

The Bizarre Nature of the Referendum

The most bizarre thing about this referendum has been the great uncertainty factor. The government led by David Cameron and George Osborne in particular made big play about how terrible it would be if we left the EU and they rounded up and pressurized a whole bunch of influential leaders all of whom produced a whole variety of prophecies of doom. In the short term at least these have been proven to be very wrong.

In the debate between Nigel Farage and David Cameron, the then-leader of ukip was first asked why all the experts were saying leaving the EU will be a catastrophe. He cited the advice years ago from the experts to join the ERM which went wrong and then later advice to join the euro with warning of how bad it would be if we didn’t, and they were wrong.

While not wanting to rely upon a leader who appears to move in and out of the leadership of a party which some say has outlived its original purpose, there is a truth that is quite evident that actually trying to forecast how the future will work out is a mug’s game, and in the short-term at least that forecasting has been largely wrong.

The campaigning before the referendum, on both sides, was often frenetic with wild statements being made while the rest of us looked on and knew deep down, NO ONE KNOWS how it will work out either way.

Blinkered Vision – Limited Knowledge

Looking back on the campaigning it seems like there was either a loss of reality that personal bias brings or things were being said with the intention of steamrollering truth for the reason I’ve just given and so the outcome was, “We must say anything to win our case because we don’t actually KNOW what outcomes there will be, but we are sure WE are right!”

There have been those who have said, “We need to have another referendum because the  Leave people were not told the full facts and the vote was taken on imperfect information.” I like the old adage that says, “The one thing about history is that history teaches us nothing.” I say this because if this is true – and it is almost certainly true of both sides because neither side could see with a certainty what will happen – then history is indeed repeating itself.

Andrew Marr in his weighty tome, “A History of Modern Britain”, makes an interesting point when he covers the referendum that took us into the EU when he says, “More than thirty years later, the bigger question both about Heath’s triumph in engineering British membership and then about the Labour referendum, is whether the British were told the full story and truly understood the supranational organisation that they were signing up to. Ever since, many of those among the 8.5 million who voted against, and younger people who share their view, have suggested that Heath and Jenkins and the rest lied to the country, at least by omission.”

He goes on to suggest that may not be entirely true yet concludes, “Yet both in Parliament and in the referendum campaign, the full consequences for national independence were mumbled, not spoken clearly enough.”

From all he says, going on his information, no doubt voices were raised in all directions but with such monumental decisions, it is almost certain the entire truth will never be known.  Back then we took a leap of faith. This year we have taken another one. The past forty years have suggested many ups and downs of life within the EU and no doubt, in the next however many years, there will be similar ups and downs but now on the opposite side. The question has to be, will we do all we can to make it good? Some of the ramblings on this blog may, hopefully address some of the aspects of what is happening and what might happen.

Self-fulfilling prophecies of doom or success?

In the aftermath there have still been predictions that it will yet go pear shaped from doom-mongers of Remain which somehow feel like ‘sour grapes’, we didn’t get our way so we’re going to make it sound bad so it might go bad and we’ll be proved right and you wrong.

IF this is true, then surely this is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. Fact 1: We had an election. Fact 2: That election was won by the Leave side.  Fact 3: We don’t rerun elections because we didn’t like the outcome. Fact 4: The present Prime Minister in her desire to honor the will of the majority people as shown by the referendum result has decreed we will honor that and Brexit means Brexit.

It is always possible that this decision will turn out to be the worst decision made by the country for a long time (although I personally don’t think it will) but surely it is in all of our interests to do all we can to see that that decision works for us as a nation, and for Europe as a close trading group in the rest of the world.

One with the EU?

In a remarkably statesmanlike and somber mood, Boris Johnson on the morning of the result said the following: “it does not mean it will be any less European. I want to speak directly to the millions of people who did not vote for this outcome, especially young people who may feel that this decision involves somehow pulling up the drawbridge because I think the very opposite is true. We cannot turn our backs on Europe. We are part of Europe, our children and our grandchildren will continue to have a wonderful future as Europeans, travelling to the continent, understanding the languages and the cultures that make up our common European civilisation, continuing to interact with the peoples of other countries in a way that is open and friendly and outward looking. And I want to reassure everyone Britain will continue to be a great European power, leading discussions on defence and foreign policy and the work that goes on to make our world safer.”

Who back then, at the time of the referendum could have guessed that the wisdom of a new woman Prime Minister would ever make that speaker the next Foreign Secretary?  Whether those words can be fulfilled will, in a measure, be determined by the EU itself, and that subject must be part of a separate discussion. Watch this space.

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