(previously published on Fax Magazine)
People all over Britain were dumbfounded as they read the morning news on 24th June 2016. Months on they still are. A vortex has buffeted the isles ever since the EU referendum, resulting in widespread disbelief and confusion. David Cameron, the man that led us into this dark hole, immediately abandoned ship, leaving Downing Street and finding refuge in a rented £17m townhouse. A month on and six thousand miles away, trusted friend and ex-colleague George Osborne was seen unloading high calibre rounds from an M-60 into the Vietnamese jungle. We, ‘the little people’ as Farage’s life-sucking rhetoric would have it, watched the mad political blood-bath unfold from a distance, each day bringing new accusations, betrayals, resignations, and revelations, and for some the creeping sense that they had been terribly misled.
It’s anybody’s guess what the following years will hold for Britain and Europe. Some think Europe will be hurt by Brexit, others that Britain will be broken and left sinking. Some say Britain will exit quickly whilst others argue that it might not happen at all. And nobody is sure what the consequences will be for British government, having revealed itself to be a highly volatile institution.
Despite the humiliation, breakdown, and major reshuffling of the Conservative government post-referendum, the Labour party was incapable of exploiting the moment. They took the opportunity, instead, to turn against party leader Jeremy Corbyn. A huge majority of (172-40) MPs signed a vote of no confidence in him; but again, who to trust? Are the 172 a band of neoconservatives that despise Corbyn’s politics? Or do they have good reasons for considering the leader, who maintains considerable public appeal, a failure? Either way, I am yet to hear one. Much of the criticism seems to hinge flimsily on the supposed lack of leadership he showed in the lead up to the referendum; that because he didn’t sing the praises of the European Union loudly enough, he’s incapable of leading the party to victory in the next general election. So far the only real obstacle to that end has been the coup itself.
Lies, false promises, and anti-immigration rhetoric determined the EU referendum - a coin toss would have been a fairer method of deciding it. The decision was between remaining in the Union, one fraught with a democratic deficit but better than a conflicted Europe without a union, or being isolated and left at the mercy of an inadequate government without any of the security that the Union bestowed, including the Human Rights Act. They say democracy has spoken! But when Theresa May became prime minister without a public vote, and when new Labour party members were denied, without explanation, the right to vote in the next leadership election, where was democracy then?
As though you needed reminding, our turmoil is microcosmic when we consider the confusion and hysteria erupting throughout America as Trump’s schizophrenic campaign continues. There is, however, only so much fear-mongering talk a reader can take in one article, and only so much I can add before we both suffer mental collapse. It will suffice to say people are desperate for change and willing to look anywhere for it. This being so, we must try to calm our nerves, remain skeptical, and do everything we can to navigate in this thick fog and avoid the pillars of deceit that lurk just below the surface.