Do you remember that woman in England who, when a TV reporter told her an election had been called, cried out “Not another one!”, her voice a wail of frustration? By rights there should be a lot of people turning on their radios or reading their newspapers and seeing acres of commentary and reporting on Brexit, and issuing a similar wail: “Not another report on Brexit!”
That’s what you’d expect. But Brexit is such an enormously big deal, most media-consumers are happy enough to hear the latest or listen to a Brexit interpretation, providing it’s not totally buck-stupid. What you rarely get is a commentator putting him or herself in the shoes of someone who thinks differently from them. So here goes.
Did the people who voted Leave have a point? I’d say they had. In England, it was people from places like the north-east and Yorkshire who delivered an emphatic Leave. In other words, people who had suffered over years of austerity and saw no end in sight. Add into that mix a sense that foreigners were coming into their country and living on welfare and/or taking their jobs. And add again a desire to give smug bastards like David Cameron a kick where he’d be throbbing for weeks, and you have the hellish mix that made for the Brexit decision, in England at any rate. Oh – I should have added the rosy picture that Boris and his pals put on the side of buses and elsewhere, calling on the Churchill spirit of the British people to stand alone.
Another reason, less frequently mentioned, is that the English people assumed their politicians would know how to lead them to Boris’s “sunny uplands.” At the time it looked as if he might be PM material, and a lot of people bought into that vision, sailing towards a bold new tomorrow with Boris as captain.
Now that it’s been revealed that Boris hasn’t a clue let alone a compass, and that Theresa May and all the other MPs are equally clueless and compass-less, the British (aka the English) people are filled with a considerable degree of trepidation about this bright new tomorrow that’s on its way. But they can’t bring themselves to say “We screwed up with our vote. Let’s back away from this abyss. Give us a second referendum.” It’s hard to admit to yourself you’ve been taken for a fool, let alone admit it to the world. So instead they grit their teeth and demand “We voted for Brexit. Bloody-well get on and give it to us.”
Which proves one thing that pundits normally deny: there are things which people value above their economic welfare, and one of those is their self-respect. Or stubbornness. Us wear sackcloth and ashes? Forget it, mate.
Here in our tormented corner of Ireland, of course, the Leave vote was largely decided by constitutional fears. Which is hugely ironic, since Brexit has put the border in greater peril than at practically any time in the last one hundred years.