Brexit as Usual

Six days in hospital and no mention of Brexit. Didn’t think about it once. I was far too ill to watch TV, or, for much of the time even notice that it was there. I had more immediate concerns…..

But now I’m home and it’s back to Brexit as usual, a rumbling low-level background noise spiking into sharper focus with the latest reaction or speech or other, more positive, development ( see the reference by the Scottish Courts to the CJEU on the ability of the UK to unilaterally revoke its Article 50 notice and remain within the EU – by the way, this excellent project is crowd funded and looking for funds ). It’s only when one has been away from it that one realises just how much Brexit features in one’s day-to-day life.

In part this is the media’s fixation, especially if you are a broadly progressive Remainer – the Guardian and on-line Indie report almost daily on Brexit and one’s media feeds echo with it. In part it’s because of a genuine interest  current affairs ( and they don’t come much bigger or more current than the cliff edge that is Brexit ) and, in my own, case in part an erstwhile professional interest (a thirty year career in Whitehall does give a certain perspective – though that’s not to say I’m particularly well-informed or up to date – as soon as one steps away one isn’t ).

But for most people I suspect that Brexit is just noise, the background buzzing of an annoying fly. However much one might argue that they should take it more seriously, that such a self-inflicted and avoidable disaster is too important to ignore, people don’t. They’re not particularly interested in politics and don’t trust politicians anyway. We had a referendum and voted. That one side broke the law in achieving its victory – so what? No one’s been charged so it can’t be that important. You can’t make people take an interest, however much it might be in their interests to do so, after all nearly 28% of the electorate didn’t even vote last time around ( though more voted than in the subsequent GE in 2017, which saw a turnout of 69% ).

Even if there is another referendum – and there’s a long way to go before that, whatever exactly ‘that’ is, happens – there’s no saying that the result would change. There will, as a friend pointed out to me recently, be demographic changes, two year’s worth of new young voters, the young being far more likely to vote for remain and a falling of of numbers at the other end of the scale. One of the startling aspects of the result was the extent to which the old were determining a future they couldn’t hope to partake in, against the desires of those who could. And, presumably the ‘I wouldn’t have voted to leave if I thought leave might actually win’ brigade might have learned their lesson. But what about the remainers who accepted that they lost and see another vote as an attempt to ‘cheat’ democracy.  Or those stubborn enough to vote leave just because there is another vote and the result of the first wasn’t honoured.

No, regardless of what the polls say, I am not convinced that people would vote differently.  It might all come down to those additional voters, even if  we do have a second vote.

For more on Brexit try                      The Clock is Ticking                       Setting the Scene

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