Brexit and Poisonous Politics in the UK
I was in the UK during the Brexit process and was asked to answer a question about any benefits of a No Deal Brexit. If you look at the Quora article, please consider the question it is answering about Brexit, a process where the UK ended its deal with the EU. It is not meant to be a balanced article, neither is this. UK politics is tricky for me to understand, I figured it might be tricky for others not raised here, too. Updated.
Given the many long, precious years of peace and stability enjoyed in the UK, the fabulous infrastructure, excellent public services and the great similarities between her main political parties, politics can be shockingly divisive in Britain. Free schooling and medical care remove the two greatest family expenses by far, but gratitude is small, further demands are raucous and constant and politics in the UK can be shockingly toxic.
If you are a Commonwealth citizen, as a resident, you have the right to vote in the UK as long as you are on the electoral roll. Surprisingly, there is no national ‘photo ID system as yet.
There are two main political parties that seem to be very moderate and very similar. Local perceptions disagree with mine, likely based on history when there was once a huge class divide and the super-rich voted Conservatives (aka Tories) and workers voted Labour. Perceptions have outlived gentry, coal mines, the industrial age and the heydays of powerful trade unions.
The UK has a central government based in Westminster, with devolved governments in every country other than England, which is directly ruled by Westminster.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain had a referendum on 23 June 2016. The Boss Man at the time, one David Cameron, told voters that he would do whatever they decided – Either stay put or take the country out of the European Union.
I’m guessing he assumed that after decades of griping, many citizens who felt tricked into joining the deal that became the EU years before had died, and that current voters liked using their mobile ‘phones in other EU countries without extra charges so much that they’d vote to stay.
Maybe he never noticed when services like WhatsApp started providing worldwide calls free of charge, so never figured that free calls within Euroland might not swing the vote? I do know that few other benefits of staying in the EU were publicised during the campaign.
Either way, the voters voted OUT. They must have put their mark in the wrong box because it caused a kerfuffle so big that Boss Man Cam went into shock and resigned. He’d never been the man with the plan.
Obviously, he needed to be replaced by someone. Nobody really wanted the job, so The Powers did what they always do in these circumstances – They went PC and inclusive and picked someone from a minority group. In this case, the Boss Man was replaced with a BossGal, Theresa May. Someone said this was for the best because we are a democracy after all.
At first, the new BossGal looked strong. She made a speech on TV. I think she was going for the Margaret Thatcher look – Thatcher is an ex-Bossgal who closed the coal mines in Scotland and who my grandad might have loathed in protest if he’d been able to breathe. He’d been a coal miner – the dust is a bugger.
BossGal spent years chatting with the EU. It takes time to discuss things with them because they are many, from many countries, mobile – and their multiple parliament buildings are cities and countries apart. Nobody was told much except that BossGal had a thing for buying shoes. Towards the end of the allotted years, BossGal and the EU Mascot of the Moment emerged carrying piles of bound papers. Someone had been making notes while they were talking.
The UK was on track. An entire agreement was presented right before D-Day. It was well crafted and bound, presented to MP’s and it ……. flopped.
The house said NO.
That’s when things got crazy. We all stopped watching Eastenders because the news was more gripping. Men in black strutted, women in grey fiddled with the plastic ID cards they wear like necklaces and man oh man – they made a racket! It sounded like Hull on the night after a big university exam. The gaggle made so much noise and caused so many headaches that they started getting hate mail. Our MPs yapped so much and so loudly that we recognised them by their dental fillings.
Rounds of talks about the talks, about the previous talks, made us dizzy. Then came the tales.
We were told how the lorries from France that bring goods and asylum seekers via a road under the sea, and by ship on the sea (I lie not) were going to stop moving because it takes an age to scan cargo and paperwork. We heard about the army importing secretly smuggled water cannons in case the government had to get really hard-assed about crowd control. We saw things too – Like those naked people who protested climate change in parliament while votes and more votes were being counted. It turned out to be fake news (the water cannons, at least). Distractions aside, the outcome of the vote remained NO.
Our “Leaving Day” came …. and went. The EU gave us another date and told us that our men (and women) in black (and grey) had to vote YES for something – anything – before they’d speak to us again.
Simple – In Summary
The Powers got tired of The Rabble whinging about being in the EU so they let them choose whether they wanted to stay or leave.
The Rabble went to their local library or school and made their mark on a card. The Powers were left with one job – Create a roadmap to manage the Exit. Something like:
Tell the EU that we are leaving – Check
Make plans to cover the gaps and changes that exit causes – Fail
There were no plans. The Powers seem to have spent the allotted for post-Brexit planning debating whether to leave the EU/ how we leave the EU without changing anything.
The Powers got it wrong. Antsy voters protected by keyboards aren’t reachable by non-existent water cannons. They wanted to know the plan – What had actually been done to ensure the UK didn’t run out of humous and orange juice on Leave Day. The answer was nothing – as yet, be still and chill.
Just when The Madam & The Marxist seemed sure to come up with something to silence the yappers, widespread constipation hit. Digesting the reality that the UK was no longer in the EU took far longer than anyone expected as efforts to plan any measures and logistics just … Stalled. Thinking folk bought in extra humous.
How did we get Here?
Basically, the United Kingdom of Great Britain (the one that ruled most of the known world not too long ago) somehow got into a jam with a few other countries. Things were tight after the war, so they used common sense and joined a thing called The Common Market. They did what any good housewife does – Get together with some friends and buy in bulk and from each other so it’s cheaper to feed
Like most discount clubs, the EU worked ok while everyone was broke. As time passed, prosperity grew. Members had a few parties and brought their spouses along. The booze flowed, and representatives got a bit too cosy. As more people joined the club, some of the older members started to think that it was time to …Call time. The closeness wasn’t the same – So many newbies joining in made the relationship between states feel more like an orgy. The Rulebook got thicker, the clan got clickier and the people grew tired. Even buying generic viagra from India (to maintain the orgy) was became far too complicated. Members started to want a bigger choice of products. They missed Toyotas from Japan and big Chevrolets from the US. Some even wanted to buy New Zealand lamb again and missed making their own deals. O
The Hotel California Phase
The main arguments for and about how leaving the EU hinged on a few things
Club Culture Clash
The savings club grew into a multi-generational family living in one house and breaking some serious moral boundaries. Even for those inclined, orgies work best between strangers. Consenting participants who give power over to a group sometimes mature and change their minds. The 60s are over. Most people today agree that consent should be obtained continuously – That a nod on Monday doesn’t automatically give ravaging rights on Thursday. Dusty despots seeking to control in an era now powered by creativity and individualism do struggle. Bowls, football, cricket – Every club starts well, grows, falters then either changes with member aspirations or ultimately fails. Recent trends have seen many large, legalistic clubs forced into opening up, relaxing rules and accomodating differences.
One side wanted to make and enforce clear rules in the club. That can work. Others wanted to be friends, help out, make good deals and listen if there was trouble – But they wanted to make other friends, too. Some people in EU countries want to leave it, some people in the UK wanted to stay in. Britsh voters are culturally diverse, a large number are descended from previous immigration waves and retain links with their previous homes. Why can’t everyone have their cake and eat it too? Life is a bowl of cherries.
Hearing and seeing how political leaders treated each other these past few years was an eye-opener. They really acted out – Scared, perhaps, of having power returned to them and doing their job. At some point, they were going to have to do more than scrutinise, surely?
The UK should have left on 29 March but didn’t because the Srcew-ten-
Their job was to present the public with a roadmap to leave. One hand cannot clap alone, and nobody in the UK could speak for the EU. Maybe planning should have started from a No-Deal scenario and developed from there as Roadmaps all start at the beginning? The UK government is massive despite the tiny region. If you ever watch them on TV, you will notice the MPs struggle to reach an agreement on anything. Meetings actually seem contrived to be theatrical.
At number 99 and the whole country was in a spin. Multiple other countries were impacted by the repeated delays.
- They made Treaties and travelled a lot to talk a lot – A group of men and women who muttered into beards they never had and seldom seemed to understand each other. They carried folders of papers under their arms and walked down long hallways. Some seemed to drink a lot at lunch. Others cycled.
The hard Right
- Everything is hard in politics these days. Anti the EU, wore great aftershave and just wanted to leave the building -Think Bruce Willis hanging off the wing of a jet above an ocean, in a hurricane … You know he’ll survive a crash landing. These included manipulators pushing divisive agendas (as expected)
The hard Left
- Everything is hard in politics these days. They consisted of Comrade Andy Cap surrounded by women – a LOT of them – and a few guys who you didn’t notice much because the women seem to swarm them. They said they wanted to honour the will of people because they were fair, but they didn’t seem to want anything to actually change – They seemed a bit, “Don’t rock my boat” and oblivious to the fact that the world was (and is) changing fast. Some seemed to have their heart in the right place while others seemed to fancy being the next PM. (Chill – the next one would be a guy). They include(d) manipulators pushing divisive agendas (as expected)
- They had some lookers in the party. MPs didn’t want to be in the United Kingdom but their people did, and said so in a vote. Want(ed) to be in the EU because
…. Europeansdrink more Scotch? Scotland and Wales had benefited from the best of Freedom Of Movement – university, studies, science, ecology. Most areas were/are far less affected by the negative pressures of immigration (overcrowding, housing shortages, increased pressure on services) compared to elsewhere because less newcomers want(ed) to live in Scotland. Loud MPs want(ed) to stay in the EU and leave the UK instead – But the people were (are) actually mostly polite, wonderful, hard-working and warm people who love their dogs and have big hearts. Historically known to be canny, more recently known for widespread cannabis (and other drug) abuse. They include(d) manipulators pushing divisive agendas (as expected)
- Northern Ireland, that is. Brexit raised regional issues. One sector of MPs attended parliament, the others had seats but wouldn’t sit in them because they were (are) protesting something that I’m told I won’t understand because it goes back a long way
….It must make effective governing quite inefficient. The portion that does attend are mostly pro the UK (union), their vote was (is?) for sale under the right circumstances. They include(d) manipulators pushing divisive agendas (as expected)
- Wales benefited from many EU funding grants and from the skills brought by Freedom of Movement, with few negatives. The views around Brexit were divided at the time. The Welsh seemed to have a nationalist movement that was more focused on retaining and expanding the local language. I don’t have much experience of the region, but I know that few from abroad head directly for Wales. Many find English easier to understand and are attracted to the higher salaries and friends already settled in England, especially the already very densely populated commercial areas in the South. I’m not sure how widespread the nationalist views were, and whether protecting heritage translated into a negative perception of migration. Other friends from abroad who have visited Wales have always been warmly received. There was concern about farming subsidies, but also a strong pro-Brexit sentiment from some. Welsh MPs on TV generally had the best manners.
Lastly, there were (are) a few groups who shared opinions. They hung out in groups that talked on the radio, wrote or commented on columns in the papers and said no to everything.
The Commonwealth vote was underestimated – The Left said Brexit was “racist”, and never noticed that many previous immigrants to the UK felt a bit sidelined with the EU Freedom of Movement that was reserved for …. Well, Europeans. The Right wanted immigration based on need/skills rather than region (still largely equated to race) which seemed fairer to many non-EU nationals. This created a strange common stance between traditionally opposing sectors.
EU nationals wanted the right to remain in the UK, although the upturn in some previously low wage countries (especially Poland) meant that some returned home for personal reasons. The local press often linked the outcome of the Brexit decision to immigration, but this might have been overstated. Brexit never limited the rights of anyone residing in the UK, but there was hope that ending Freedom of Movement might equal the immigration playing for people from non-EU countries.
The UK dithered and residents risked finding themselves voting again while trucks piled up under and over the sea from France. Some said that wouldn’t happen because the EU wouldn’t know what to do with all the cars they sell to the UK every year.
The Madam & the Marxist made a patchwork deal that covered everything except leaving the EU. Perhaps a few housewives, a motor mechanic and maybe an electrician could have done more to sort this out than the whole UK parliament did during these years. Putting TV cameras in Parliament seemed to turn MPs into actors and comedians.
The UK asked for more time for MPs to talk and vote. The hard Right wanted to walk away, and presumably repatriate the trucks bringing us food from France as they don’t have permission to enter the island. The hard Left wanted to forget Brexit was ever considered. Both were moderate until then. In fact, it’s doubtful that any side really had (has) a hard ….. anything.
No Deal Brexit Option
People got tired of reading, hearing and thinking about Brexit after a few years, so this became a buzz phrase. No-Deal sounded a bit like
First, there’s life with some pain and discomfort, then a lot of babbling around you until it stops making sense – THEN you spot the needle. Push the syringe down, suck up the warm fluid and jab it in – live and direct into your blood supply.
Then …. the rush. Euphoria. Unless, of course, you die.
The way they toyed with No Deal Brexit seemed a bit like that. As if parliament played around with a party drug while they should have been doing their homework. Its supporters were probably pleased because the work required would have been … Work.
There was an election, a new PM was instated. The UK left the EU, the newspapers were packed with if/why articles, there was (is) an ongoing issue with the customs border in Northern Ireland. Most hope the people both on and off the continent who thrashed this out considered their families above their egos and their legacy.
The Covid pandemic muted the Brexit chatter. Shortages were experienced worldwide, price rises became inevitable. Harry and Meghan did an Oprah show. Fake news became the “new normal”. Change was (is) on the horizon.
Smaller parties in the UK are getting their act together. Interesting times. They’ve been growing since the first power-sharing government. Mostly, the big parties haven’t noticed. They will as time passes. When this happens, UK politics might become easier to grasp. Some people, even families, vote for the same political party at every election rather than for current views and plans and are as passionate about “their” party as they are about the football team they support. This can seem strange but is worth remembering because it can be surprising divisive and even cause unintentional arguments.