The people were asked and the people responded. The UK is going to leave the EU. I repeat – just in case it hasn’t sunk in yet – we have voted and the UK will leave the European Union. A highly successful peace project, forum for debate, improved living standards, an economic collaboration at a level of sophistication which no other global free trade area is close to, and a drive to protect the environment, workers’ rights and towards greater equality. We have rejected it all.
Yes, at 52% v 48% this was a narrow Leave victory. But 1.3 million more Brits chose to go it alone. They believe that the EU is so broken, so ineffective and so undemocratic that it is worth ditching for…. for what? I see no other plan on offer from the Leave campaign. They tells us that they want to ‘take back control’ – but so far we have seen little control or plan, just a stock market free fall and financial impact the worst seen for over 30 years.
People in the UK are angry at the pressures they face in their communities – the lack of housing, job security and access to public services. Our government’s response to the banking crisis and economic crash was to withdraw investment to relieve these pressures, and instead slash public spending – leaving communities less resilient and more vulnerable. The North East, West Midlands, Wales and the Eastnor England were persuaded in their millions in the vote that it is the EU to blame for the challenges they face. Immigration, unemployment, lack of public funds: if we left the EU, they believe these problems could be solved.
Except they won’t. The root cause of these pressures are far more complex. And actually it is within the power and control of the government to tackle them. They just choose not to. And in the absence of any action and progress to improve services and jobs, there was growing discontent and a scapegoat was conveniently attributed in the guise of the European Union.
The Brexit vote has triumphed, and it is only a matter of time before the UK officially leaves the EU. So it is now vital that we heal divisions and put our anger and disappointment forward in a constructive manner. We need to stand up for migrants, for the communities of workers in the UK who have chosen to make here their home. The free movement of people has enriched, not empoverished, people’s lives in Britain.
We must also work together with young people, trade unions and environmental groups to defend our rights and security, safeguard our NHS from privatisation and enhance our environmental protections.
And we still need to rebuild our failing political party system. People’s views have not been represented effectively for decades – no one has listened hard enough. The Brexit vote was a vote against Westminster, against elitism and against complacency. Whole communities have been alienated from the political process – and rose up against it to vote in their millions. We need to fix our democracy in the UK – starting with electoral reform in the House of Commons. If you perceive that the EU is undemocratic, Westminster is even less accountable and less prone to reflect the UK as a whole. We need democratic reform. And we need it urgently.
It is almost 2 years to the day that I tool the first step, actually joined a political party, and funnelled all my passions and ideas and beliefs constructively. With other committed citizens with similar values, I have hopefully started to make a difference. The Brexit vote is a significant set back, but we in the Green Party remain united and with a strong belief that actually *doing* politics makes a difference. Please, stand up with us. You can join here.
We have to ensure that good comes from the anger, the sadness, the disappointment. The mess. We must listen, and we must take our country forwards, not back.