I belong to an interesting subset of the population at Snapdragon Consulting; I voted to leave the European Union. In fact, I am reportedly the lone voice in this regard – the ‘token Brexiter’ at the company.
Not a day goes by when I am not challenged on my views by the team. But, for me this is not an insult. It is a badge of honour. I was asked to write about my experience with Brexit and its aftermath, and want to take this opportunity to provide a perspective that may not make its way around the mainstream media as much as some of my more extreme pro-Brexit peers who seem to get all of the attention!
First, let me put this on the record: I love Europe. I love its culture, I love travelling there and I love its people. The food is not half bad either.
The European Union on the other hand, I am not so in love with.
I am what you might call a ‘Soft Brexiter’ – I believe in maintaining the closest possible relationship with the EU (and our European neighbours more generally), without being a part of or dictated to by its fundamentally undemocratic and unaccountable institutions. You know, those institutions such as the European Commission, which as pleasant as I’m sure they all are personally (Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk seem like nice blokes!), are run by a bunch of unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.
Who on earth would want to be part of a club like this when we can have our own, democratically elected MPs, and a sovereign parliament at home making laws in the interests of our own country and the people living in it?
There were a few other reasons that made me vote to leave the EU which I have listed below (in case you might be interested):
- To end the hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of contributions to the EU budget that we send every week and know how to spend better ourselves.
- To avoid further political union and having to put up with an ever-growing number of anthems, flags and institutions – to the point where they will no doubt be infinite.
- To end the supremacy of EU law over domestic law in the UK and the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in our country.
- To remove ourselves from the Common Fisheries Policy that has decimated our fishing industry and to get our waters back.
- To save the National Health Service from the EU’s plans to harmonise health policy across member states.
- To take control of our borders so that we can decide for ourselves who and how many people can come into our country (like the majority of other countries on the planet are able to do).
- To bring about a fairer immigration system, which values people wishing to come to the UK equally according to their own merits and ability to address skills shortages – not what continent they come from.
- To take control of our own trade deals (like the majority of other countries on the planet) with the rest of the world, including the world’s emerging, largest and strongest growing economies: the United States, China, Brazil, India, the Commonwealth.
In light of the above, I fundamentally believe that the UK will be a more democratic, fairer and richer country as a result of the decision to leave the EU. Maybe you agree, maybe not, but my decision was well-intentioned and predicated on the desire to see a more outward looking, genuinely liberal country; the complete opposite of, and a world away from, a racist, immigrant bashing, regressive agenda that some have decided to associate all Brexiters with.
I can’t speak for the other voters, but mine was simply a vote to leave the EU – not Europe.
However, the referendum campaign is over now and, as such, so is my rant!
With Article 50 triggered, it is now in everyone’s interests, Remainers and Brexiters alike, to accept this result and to find common ground so that we can concentrate on getting the best possible deal for the country in our upcoming negotiations with the EU.
As it happens I think that most ordinary Remainers and Brexiters are ready to start concentrating on this. My experience at Snapdragon is proof, as we are all able to have engaging, interesting discussions on the topic – accompanied by a bit of teasing, of course. But then there are the brexitilogical phenomena known as ‘Remoaners’ and ‘Hard Brexiteers’.
If the ‘Remoaners’ (a minority of obsessive remainers who think they speak for all Remainers. Archetype – Tim Farron) could stop moaning for two years and spending all their energy on signing petitions, going on pointless marches and attempting to re-run the campaign, then that would be welcome.
Likewise, if the ‘Hard Brexiteers’ (a minority of obsessive Brexiters who think they speak for all Brexiters. Archetype – Nigel Farage) stopped antagonising the EU by portraying them as the Empire from Star Wars (I almost spat out my cornflakes when I heard the words ‘war’ and ‘Gibraltar’ used in the same sentence over the weekend) and blackmailing the EU into giving us a deal in return for sharing security intelligence, then that would also be helpful.
In fact, if both sides of the referendum stop the campaigning that should have ended a year ago, get their act together, and attempt to find common ground between each other, then the country may well be able go into these negotiations united, giving us the best possible chance of getting a settlement that makes some attempt to bridge the divergence of opinion in this country, which allows us to maintain a close relationship with the EU and our European neighbours like the vast majority of this country wants, and which provides the best possible outcome for the economy and the aspects of it that we care most dearly about.
Maybe, just maybe we’ll come out of this with a stronger sense of unity and understanding – one can only hope!