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Sovereignty, a word thrown around with gay abandon in the build up to the recent In/Out referendum means nothing. The EU didn’t impair any sovereignty of this country, but it’s easier to use grandiose words to help ensure that the impaired think they understand something. When Britain has voted against 2% of the laws that were imposed on it by the EU, you can’t really argue that it was the tyrannical sovereignty-stealing monolith many on the right (and left) wanted us to believe.  

From racist to protesters, socialist to nationalist, undecided to the well-meaning you’ve all been duped, whatever your reasoning:

  • The immigrants won’t leave this country, it was never claimed that they would by the Leave side in fact the opposite was openly opined by Leave stakeholders. Yet the racists have become somewhat more vocal now the Leave vote has come through – even factoring the bias of the left-wing/pro-remain media that wants to make the most of this. Those most vocal seem to believe that it gives them a legitimate mandate, with many of them confounding EU immigration with worldwide immigration and attacking Islam off the back of it. Now the leaders of the other European nations are only offering access to the free-market if we maintain freedom of movement.
  • The number of protest votes seems phenomenal in this referendum with plenty of people stating that they’re voting to leave but don’t actually want to leave the EU. Turning around red-faced the next day declaring, ‘I didn’t expect my vote to count.’  
  • You’ve hastened the departure of the only left leaning Labour leader and whilst your belief in a quicker general election may well come to pass, it’s no longer just the Conservatives who are in crisis but Labour too. You may also rejoice in leaving a partly undemocratic neo-liberal institution, but you forget that Britain is the founder of European neo-liberalism and those same parties that advocate the philosophy you despise now hold all the cards.
  • Nationalists have destroyed their nation. The destruction and separation of the sovereign nation of the United Kingdom is almost inevitable with Scotland likely to leave in the short-term and Ireland looking to reunify in the mid-term. Probably doesn’t matter though does it? You lot have a very flexible view of your nation, summarised perfectly with the Andy Murray analogy. He’s Scottish when he’s losing and British when he’s winning.
  • The undecided… there was always a second chance of voting out – if and when the right time arose.
  • The well-meaning are potentially the worst of the lot.
    £350m a week extra to the NHS… I concur that that sounds great on paper and out of context. If you were to spend the entirety of the £350 million on the NHS where would the money come to fund the projects that the EU subsidised? The regeneration of this city & Manchester? The farmers subsidies? That money will still (or should still) go to those places and projects, no? The net spend on the EU was far closer to the proposed number, around £170 million once the rebates were factored in. So say we can spend entire £350 million on the NHS (which we won’t because we’ll likely have to pay for access to the single market) but say we do, it’s a drop in the ocean. The NHS has an annual budget of 116.36 billion meaning that we spend about £2.23 billion a week on it, what on earth is an added £170 million going to do and that’s assuming we have it to spend there? You believed a myth from a man who denied its feasibility the moment he became victorious. A man who has openly spoken about the full privatisation of the NHS within the next 10 years. You believed these lies and chose not just to double check –  but not even spend 10 minutes on Google.

It’s not that it didn’t go my way, I’m not some bitter remainer per se. You can argue that this is democracy in action and it is, if democracy means being lied to (by both sides) and then not having the willingness or resolve to fact check. It’s not about it not going my way, it’s the lies that were espoused and then reneged instantly which makes the referendum result controversial with people turning round shocked and bemused. The last 2 general elections haven’t gone ‘my’ way. I have lived with it in the spirit of democracy, but this is different and there are no second* chances with this option. It’s not like a general election, which we can – in theory – call forward or, at worst, will come about again in 4-5 years. We’ve just hacked off our nose to spite our face.

The problem with the EU wasn’t lack of sovereignty in these isles, it wasn’t the red tape and bureaucracy the EU supposedly imposed on invention and entrepreneurialism. The problem was and always will be the British public – or more precisely – a lot of people’s willingness to blame others over themselves. A trait shared by the left as much as the right.

Whether it’s the archetypical leftist argument of nurture over nature – It’s society’s fault she was an addict – a view the right often – rightly – criticise. Yet the bastion of nature over nurture, the will of the individual, is regularly the first to spew out shit like – It’s immigration’s fault that we have so many unemployed. You can’t have it both ways, either people take responsibility for themselves or they don’t. Don’t just pick and choose, playing fast and loose with your flaky political ideologies.

You’re the national equivalent of the middle-aged man who says ‘I could have been this or that’, but successful people have never said ‘they could have been’ they have just got on with it. Which is why most successful business people were on the remain side. They succeeded with the hurdles and the support of the EU, they didn’t have to blame the EU for making their lives more difficult because, in most cases, it helped their businesses or their art or their sport out.

We’re witnessing the spoilt behaviour of an empire uneasy with its diminished role in world affairs. The dying fart of a once great nation. A retreat to nationalism and fear rather than co-operation and hope. An older generation – a generation that already grew complacent with its highly destructive influence on the world – offering my generation (and future generations), man-made climate change and increasingly unaffordable housing. I’ve seen plenty argue that the aged shouldn’t have had a say – I find myself agreeing. I’ve also heard people retort that the old saved this country’s sovereignty or democracy from the Wehrmacht and therefore the older generation know a thing or two. It’s true, many older people did fight for democracy in WWII etc, but those shouting this view have fought fuck all. It also suggests that the EU was completely undemocratic but it’s not really the case.

Now the people I know who use this straw-man WW2 argument are not the same people who actually fought – and frankly what the people fought for was for a peaceful and united Europe. Winston Churchill, the lynchpin of this brigade is said to have supported the idea of a union – his grandson claims he would have voted remain. Not to mention the fact that he helped lay down the first foundations of a united Europe with his second term in power. Highly critical of Atlee when he never sent representatives to the accords in Paris for the European Coal and Steel agreements, having been quoted: “Les absents ont toujours tort” (Those missing will always regret it). These agreements were put in place to ensure that dictators didn’t monopolise this stuff and have the material to back their delusions of grandeur. Those who fought in WW2 fought to stop a megalomaniacal man in order to establish a peaceful Europe…both of which the EU has helped accomplish.

Admittedly, and crucial to many leavers’ argument, he opposed a federal European state, but being part of the current EU gave us a veto against such a move. Assuming Article 50 is ever-invoked (I have my doubts) we have a fractured Europe and in turn made it less stable and by definition more likely to collapse… potentially into war**.

Finally – and more sympathetically – it’s an issue of globalisation. The EU, although a key component in the modern world’s strive towards globalisation, is certainly not the main instigated of a completely unstoppable movement. It wasn’t the EU that made the Indians and Chinese into undercut steel and coal production in the UK. If anything, the EU has attempted to finance and relieve the burden on people who were massively affected by these issues. The EU for a lot of people is – in effect – the manifestation of globalisation and the foreign, because it’s easier to have something to blame than to accept that your role in this global world is not the same as it once was. Much in the same way that Britain has to accept that it no longer has the same role in the world as it did when it ruled the empire where the sun never sets.

So when all the immigrants are gone and there is no more EU red-tape and you’re sovereign in a sense that only you understand, who will you blame then?

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*In theory

** This is unlikely and alarmist but did the late-victorian gentleman expect The Great War? We’re always living in the most prosperous age until history can look back it. We can all agree that a world that allows Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and the sort, to be more vocal is not necessarily the best version of our world. Maybe it is? Maybe I’m out of touch with a hard-faced nationalism and racism that is the new middle-ground of politics?