I see my dear friend and co-contributor (a.k.a. Rose, EV’s Managing Editor) is at a loss to know what is going on with the UK and Brexit. I’m going to try and answer! I am British (probably English) as far back as I can go but share many of the feelings that Rose describes despite our contrasting provenance. Of course that is because we are both active participants in London’s diverse and lively culture where identity, on the whole, is open, flexible and welcoming.
For this reason alone, it’s easy to see only the positives about the current status quo (that we don’t want to change) for it is one that embraces the mingling of cultures from near and far and the sharing of lives jointly committed to the development of common values and outlooks. Yes, a thousand times, yes, we must remain! We metropolitans love it and don’t want anything to change.
But even in London, it would be foolish to assume wholesale acceptance. Material conditions are poor for many Londoners, and yet, somehow even for them, optimism pertains. Move out of London, though, and life and outlook can be very different. Go to the run-down northern industrial towns, the depressed agricultural areas, and the coastal resorts whose Victorian splendour has long gone, there is little optimism and scarce expectation of benefit deriving from an opening of arms and a welcoming of strangers. Life has dealt them a hard hand of cards and Brexit might just be one way of transformation.
What’s more, the views of the so-called “liberal elite” (largely the remain-supporting intelligentsia) – a demeaning term used by Brexiter-leading-lights to spread class-based division between remainers and leavers – are scorned in Brexit-land. The intelligentsia is depicted as arrogant and superior, as well as urban and educated, and Brexiter hard-liners continue to poison the minds of pro-leavers by luring them into ever-more drastic ‘no deal’ positions which, most predictions suggest, will be dire for everyone.
But remainers are not free from blame. The early failure to impose checks and balances (such as raising the threshold for what counted as a necessary majority in the referendum and ensuring that accurate information about the pros and cons of both sides’ cases was provided prior to the vote) can perhaps be seen, with good reason, to be a direct consequence of a certain elitist (and remainer) “we know best” arrogance, seized on by the Brexit ideologists, thus guaranteeing its own defeat. Sadly, a second “people’s vote” (a term, in its own way, conveying a certain sense of “them and us”) will only confirm for leavers that their “superiors” have still not got the message.
But we remainers struggle on!!