Party in the UK: Happy Brexit Day

 

I wrote this less than 10 hours before the UK officially left the EU. Hooray! For most Americans, who have seen the political and social havoc that Brexit has wrought from a distance and at intervals, I’m sure this seems like the inevitable, albeit, long conclusion to a rocky process. But living on the ground, even compared to the experiences of the most well-informed non-Brits, is an entirely different experience.

In lectures, tutorials, and railway stopping protests, Brexit has been continually hashed out over the last two years. Every time a cabinet minister or prominent MP comes to visit our uni Tory Society, he or she is bombarded with Brexit related questions, to almost the exclusion of domestic policy. Bringing high school friends to Parliament last summer came with a man wearing a Boris mask and a Union Jack leotard shouting about the French, and a troop of be-started pro-EU protests singing about trade policy. We’ve watched two prime ministers be felled, hosted contentious debates from the highest placed on both sides at Union, and seen the pound flail in value. In short, it has been an exhausting and deeply divisive two years.

And now I’m left to wonder about the direction that the UK will take once it is free from the EU’s grasp in a few hours. At 11 pm, Boris Johnson will speak, no bells will toll and then … I don’t think that the UK will fall in the brave new post-European world that it has created for itself. It was dragged kicking and screaming into the ever-increasing treaties and blocs that formed the EU over decades, and its dictates did much to offend traditional British political and social mores. There will be trade deals and immigration upset on the horizon to be sure, and negotiating the precise nature of Britain’s relationship will be a challenge, but life will go on here. The bigger curiosity is to see how the UK responds as it turns inwards politically and farther outwards in commerce and alliances.

In terms of national politics, I doubt that they will settle into a comfortable consensus direction. Boris made many election promises, at lot with less than Thatcherite credentials in order to garner a bigger base for Parliamentary voting on the exit deal, but his ability to follow through and the ability of centrists and even more left-wing Tories to be mollified in the long term by such a figure is not assured. A bit like Churchill, Boris was made for big decisions, great speeches, and grand actions, but his capacity at a granular day-to-day level may be less than stellar. I would urge those interested in British politics to keep a particular eye on Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid, and especially Michael Gove. There may very well be a search for a new leader in the next few years. And, if Labour manages to pick someone with just slightly less odious anti-semitism and smarm than Jeremy Corbyn, the Conservative government is going to be kept on its toes.

In social terms, the ability of the government to make the transition as seamless as possible will be a first step towards closing the divide. There is no way that the divide between Leavers and Remainers will heal completely in the next few years, indeed I can clearly see someone ten or fifteen years from now bemoaning Brexit if the UK has an economic downturn, but with the long-promised political exit finally at an end, things will start to ease. New rules regarding UK passports (now reverting to the American navy blue) will become just part of the routine, and the retention of the pound means that no massive currency confusion will set in. The NHS, trade deals, the North-South development divide, and will gradually take center stage, and combatants will line up in their former positions, not necessarily along Brexit lines.

So, at the midpoint of a gray English day, I think there is cause for optimism here. The UK will not sink into the sea now that it doesn’t have Brussels dictating its fishing quotas, the painful social gap that has opened up will begin to heal as life carries on, and politics will return to its old borders, seeking to balance Butskellist control and Thatcherite freedom without creating another “winter of discontent.” As for my participation in Brexit day, after having spent so many days campaigning, canvassing, and coming out for speeches, will be a little more anodyne than the party outside of the House of Commons. A dinner date in North London, and Taiwanese bubble tea, perhaps the symbol of Britain’s new expanded trade frontiers, afterwards.

There are 22 comments.

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  1. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    • #1
  2. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Cheers to that!

    • #2
  3. Philopus Inactive
    Philopus
    @Philopus

    For those who are unfamiliar with this anthem:

    Land of hope and glory, mother of the free
    How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
    Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set
    God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet
    God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet

     

    • #3
  4. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Cheers to that!

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    She (View Comment):

    Amen!

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Now you guys got one too.

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Happy emancipation day.

    • #7
  8. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    Happy Brexit Day. Were will I get my political fix on actual meaningfull arguments related to politics. So I don’t have to follow US federal level political which has been so meaningless for the most part over the last few years.

    • #8
  9. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

     

    It is finished.

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    • #10
  11. Philopus Inactive
    Philopus
    @Philopus

    They seceded from the Union without a war! Good show Great Brittan!

    • #11
  12. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    I’ll be throwing back a few celebratory pints tonight (though not as many as the day of the vote; that was a two-day hangover)

    All of my crazy Scottish relatives have become very, very quiet. I don’t know if they’re chastened in defeat or simply resigned. Or they’re saving their energy for a new Scottish referendum for independence.

    • #12
  13. ShaunaHunt Inactive
    ShaunaHunt
    @ShaunaHunt

    Happy Brexit Day!🎉

    • #13
  14. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Annefy (View Comment):

    I’ll be throwing back a few celebratory pints tonight (though not as many as the day of the vote; that was a two-day hangover)

    All of my crazy Scottish relatives have become very, very quiet. I don’t know if they’re chastened in defeat or simply resigned. Or they’re saving their energy for a new Scottish referendum for independence.

    Good for Scottish Independence!  Let them have their own nation, the Welsh and Irish and Basques and Catalans too.  Everyone should be free.

    • #14
  15. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    My media library is gone

    • #15
  16. Belt Member
    Belt
    @Belt

    Thank you for this informative post.  I appreciate getting a report from someone on the ground over there.  I believe leaving the EU was in Britain’s best interests, and also America’s, and I hope you can re-establish you standing as a sovereign free country.  But I also know that there are a host of other challenges facing Britain, and leaving the EU is only the start of the struggle.  Best of luck to you over there.

    • #16
  17. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Cheers to that!

    And now I really want a pint of Newcastle. 

    • #17
  18. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    And now to the work at hand. Figuring out a way to prevent the NHS from devouring the entire budget of the UK.

    As PJ O’Rourke said, “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it’s free.”

    • #18
  19. MichaelKennedy Inactive
    MichaelKennedy
    @MichaelKennedy

    The celebration was a bit more and larger than the Remainer press had suggested it would be.

    https://pjmedia.com/trending/watch-massive-brexit-celebration-destroys-years-long-media-gaslighting/

    Looks enthusiastic to me,.

    • #19
  20. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    And now to the work at hand. Figuring out a way to prevent the NHS from devouring the entire budget of the UK.

    As PJ O’Rourke said, “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it’s free.”

    Not an issue.  The can just print money.  

    • #20
  21. Autistic License Thatcher
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    (Imagine a BBC accent)

    “I am sitting with a typical British family.  Until recently, prospects were bright for these citizens of the EU.  Now, all of that has changed.  At midnight last night, they all became poor.”

    • #21
  22. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Delingpole! Delingpole! Delingpole! 

    • #22

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