The Brexit farce that has ensnared the UK for over three years is coming to yet another apparent deadline, which doesn’t really mean much because no matter what the results of Johnson’s new miracle deal turn out to be, it won’t end there. In the EU or not, Brexit will shape the political and societal future of the UK for many years to come.
On one side, if Johnson gets this deal through the UK Parliament and the EU also approves it, the UK will be out of the EU – finally achieving the impossible goal that saw two Prime Ministers resign and a snap election called. That’s square one of an entirely new and complex set of issues, not least of which will be the Irish border – I mention that here now because, admittedly, I know little of the history between Ireland and the UK other than that it is not one of friendship, so I can’t really detail it below at all. There are many analyses out there that will explain it better than I could, and I’ll defer to those.
But in that same vein, I do know that Scotland voted Remain, and there have been talks about whether or not they will even stay in the UK or if they will choose the EU and separate from Britain; Wales I’m unsure about, but I can only imagine there’d be a similar sentiment from many of them. But assuming the UK doesn’t break apart once they secede from the Union, that still leaves over 50% – difficult to tell, but given that so many were misinformed or entirely ignorant about the what Brexit was, it isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine more people would now vote to Remain – angry with the results.
On the other hand, if the deal is shut down and Boris forced to either hold a second referendum or drop Brexit completely, that, as a family member of mine pointed out today, would leave at least 40% of the population angry with the result (regardless of how disillusioned and wrongly informed they may be). Either way, there will be a substantial number of people who will not settle for the outcome delivered. So where to from there? Referendums every other year? Elections consistently driven by conflicting positions on the EU, with an eternal deadlock between two sides over a single issue?
Even if the UK remains, the battle will only be stalled (again) before another onslaught against the EU begins; similarly, if the UK pulls off a deal to leave, the battle to backtrack will probably just grow stronger as reality sinks in.
Because leaving the EU will not save the UK at all, even for those concerned with economic and sovereignty issues. The EU is what lets them retain what fading significance the UK, specifically Britain, has on the world stage. For starters, it’ll drag them away from the global market until they set up trade deals of their own, that many seem to think will make the UK independent and tough, harkening back to a long-lost age of Empire. Realistically, however, economic giants like the US, China, and the EU itself will dominate them mercilessly – not even out of spite or opportunism (although that’ll be there), that’s just a fact.
Whatever sovereignty they imagine they’ll drag back will be torn away from them quickly as Britain’s title to fame and wealth was based on the subjugation of others. They, I imagine, will instead become the subjugated, a small market to be exploited and little to offer, particularly under a government that is intent on skyrocketing corporate welfare above all else, whilst imposing austerity and regression on the populace.
I can also see things becoming rather violent as well, again regardless of the outcome. Obviously massive outbreaks or civil war is not likely (can’t say impossible these days), but tensions globally appear to be on the rise again. We in the “West” have been lucky and privileged enough to not have to deal with endless warfare and humanitarian crises like some regions have, but if something should hit a tipping point, I fear the path that would lead us down.
So whether they Remain or Leave, the UK will never be the same. The population is restless and seemingly polarised, and while remaining won’t send them into freefall the same way leaving would, Brexit won’t simply fade with a second referendum or new government.
The way I see it, remaining is the obvious choice – but the question of sovereignty needs to be discussed. We should not be splitting apart and dividing ourselves into small, opposing States that will forever rattle swords with one another. In fact, a global community with increasingly porous borders and intermingling would be very possible if the superficial divisions we impose were simply cast aside. The Middle East, for over a century, has been in chaos because the West kept them divided, and now conflict between religious and ethnic groups in the norm. Even something like the self-determination of the Kurds, something that I support, is a continuation of this split.
It is entirely possible to have self-determination – such as with the Kurds in Syria, Turkey and Iraq, Catalonia in Spain, and the UK in a greater Europe – whilst remaining open and linked with other communities. Imagine if the Middle East became one open region where people had direct control over their own lives and local communities but, as a whole, resided as one people with open borders and democratically elected representatives that brought forward the needs of their group to be assisted by all? Similarly with Europe, or the Americas, the world.
Brexit is one such self-imposed division that needs to be addressed, which will involve a serious look at how the EU operates. I can see an EU that works for all members without being a dominant authority. It could instead be a forum for communities to express their concerns and determine their own actions and laws within an agreed upon framework (for example, aggression would not be tolerated), and be a service to bring aid to those who need it.
Rather than cut themselves away from Europe, the UK could build closer ties with them as a self-governing set of communities. Rather than throwing another border down between Catalonia and Spain or Kurdistan and the Middle East region, build them up as self-governing communities with open or non-existent borders that allow for closer connections with neighbouring communities.
Writing this I realise I have gotten carried away from solely discussing Brexit (hence I’ve added a subtitle) and entered the realm of a fantastic ideal. I also realise that what I have written is utter fantasy at this time because I have absolutely no faith in humanity to achieve the above stated goal. An anarchist at heart, who will always support the self-determination of all peoples and the downfall of divisive and authoritarian structures, but a cynic who faces that task with sheer torment.
There is a hope, however, that one day humanity can hold together. As we rush towards climate catastrophe, political polarisation, and more endless bloodshed, surely at some point we have to say to say that is enough. Surely at some point a step back will be taken to truly observe the horrors our humanity has unleashed.
Maybe then we can evolve our way of living into a fairer, peaceful, and open global community. Because I refuse to believe that humanity is what we have been practising this whole time.
Brexit is one such case that will decide how this struggle moves forward. Let’s hope sanity prevails.
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