4 months on, Brexit hasn’t been the disaster we thought it would be
A hopeful perspective
Before the 23rd June we heard a lot of scaremongering about what would happen if Britain voted to leave the European Union.
When this country woke up on the 24th many of us were surprised at the result, some in a positive way, others less so.
A brief look at social media showed the general outlook of (mostly young) people. Overnight this country had somehow become inward looking, racist, xenophobic, and nostalgic of the days of the British Empire.
Older generations were widely blamed and people spoke of depriving people over 60 of their right to vote.
Even before Brexit, we had become a gerontophobic nation. Somehow disliking old people and blaming them for our problems has become more ‘acceptable’ than disliking immigrants or foreigners and using them as scapegoats.
What people might not know is that the number of people over 45 voting to Remain was higher than the number in the 18-24 age bracket. Only around 35% of young Britons bothered to vote at all. If anyone should be blamed for Brexit it is those individuals.
All this talk of a ‘lost generation’ ignores the fact that our generation has not really tried to change what we feel the older generations have done wrong.
Before I get any angry comments, I will state that I voted Remain in the referendum. That does not mean I will miss the EU either.
A myth we have allowed to spread is that being anti-EU means you are automatically anti-European. By this logic, anyone who disapproves of the Chinese government is anti-Chinese. I love Europe, its cultures and its people. The EU does not represent the majority of them.
It is only very indirectly democratic. It is unwilling to reform. It creates trade deals which do not protect the rights of workers or small businesses (remember TTIP?). In the long term perhaps Britain can make Brexit work.
Very few of the disasters predicted pre-Brexit have come to pass.
The pound is dropping, it is true. International companies have had to move some staff around to accommodate for it. Xenophobic attacks are on the rise. Universities and farmers fear for the future of their funding.
But apart from that it seems Britons have kept calm and carried on. Summer retail sales were strong. Employment remains unaffected. US bank Wells Fargo spent £300m on a new London Headquarters a month after the referendum.
Investors are not leaving the country in droves. The economy for the three months following Brexit showed a 0.5% growth in the service sector, which makes up three-quarters of our economy.
Maybe this will change when negotiations begin about our future relations with the EU. Maybe there will be an economic freefall similar to 2008. That all depends on what our government does next. And the only way to protect the interests of the 48% who voted to Remain is to fight for them.
We cannot rely on the government to benevolently give universities their funding, farmers their subsidies or new developments their badly needed investment.
Brexit happened. This is a democracy. We have to accept the decisions of the majority, even if we do not agree with them. The alternative is even scarier than a post-Brexit Britain.