Abyss or Promised Land? A Personal View of Brexit

Tomorrow, on 29 March 2017, Theresa May will formally give notice of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. To some it will be the fulfilment of their hopes and dreams, to others the realisation of their worst nightmare. Those of us old enough to remember the tortuous process leading to the UK’s membership of what was then known as the Common Market may be permitted a wry smile. Every time General de Gaulle said ‘non’, the press reacted with indignation. How dare he refuse us admission, when we won the War for those ungrateful French! In recent months we have been treated to a curious re-working of the old theme, although now the enemy is Chancellor Merkel and Germany’s economic domination of Europe. For far too long our politicians and barrack room lawyers have played the game of blaming the EU for everything wrong in the UK, yet many of the things about which we worry and fret are outside the scope of EU legislation — we ourselves decide about tax, healthcare and education, for example. Much more rarely have we seen anyone lauding the benefitss of co-operation or even acknowledging the subsidies and grants we have enjoyed in various areas.

Tomorrow, all that begins to change. So, do we stand on the brink of the abyss or at the entrance to the Promised Land?  My own view is that it is far too early to say, although I do have grave reservations about the desirability of our leaving the EU. I have not been impressed by the arguments brought forward in support of Brexit, many of which have shown a surprising lack of understanding of some basic economic concepts (think of that oft-repeated claim about our being the world’s fifth largest economy— currently the sixth as it happens — with scant regard for what the phrase means or even how the ranking is calculated) or have made large promises the government of the day may not choose or be able to keep (think of that Brext ‘bus promise of £350 million more to the NHS.) Those in favour of our remaining in the EU have done a poor job of arguing its case and only now does it seem to have struck some people that there is a very real possibility of the break-up of the UK — not just Scotland seceeding from the Union, but Northern Ireland, too, which faces a particularly difficult problem over its border with the Republic. The implications for the EU itself, though commonly brushed aside in the British Government’s determination to secure ‘what’s best for us’, are important considerations. Could we see a break-up of the EU as a whole? What would that mean for the peace and prosperity of us all? And what will be the cost of Brexit, for all concerned? Has anyone any real idea?

Today, my own thoughts and prayers are with those who have to negotiate the terms of Brexit — the politicians and civil sevants, not just of the UK, but also of the remaining twenty-seven EU member States; those whose lives are ‘on hold’ while they wait to hear whether they are to be able to continue to live in the countries to which they have hitherto had free access; and with those who, like myself, have never seen any contradiction between being a patriot and a citizen of the EU. In 1973 when news came through of our having joined the Common Market, friends and I toasted a future in which there would be no more European wars, no more senseless divisions. Was that the fleeting idealism of youth, or did we grasp something our older selves have forgotten or no longer value? Only time will tell.



7 thoughts on “Abyss or Promised Land? A Personal View of Brexit”

  1. “a future in which there would be no more European wars, no more senseless divisions. Was that the fleeting idealism of youth.”

    Idealism? I would think, yes. We look at time in small windows. There will be more wars and divisions until our Lord comes again.

  2. Even Winston Churchill, our greatest ever political leader, recognised the value of a European Union. The end of war in Europe. We would jaw jaw rather than war war. The EU has always had its failings but didn’t cause us to be poor, to have poor and expensive transport, potholed roads, inadequate housing, flooding whenever we have heavy rainfall, poor pay and working conditions for a significant part of the population or one hundred and one other problems. Despite professing to still being a Christian nation, we do not love our neighbour as ourselves, we do not value peace. We are too quick to destroy rather than repair. Hatred prevails rather than love and people die unnecessarily all over the world. We still do not realise that God has the answers but needs us to learn and put them into practice.

  3. This characteristically thoughtful and charitably expressed post from someone I consider a friend leaves me in something of a cleft stick. I voted to leave the EU, I was and remain untroubled in conscience about doing so, there’s a fair bit in the OP here with which I would directly take issue and I’m not normally one to avoid doing so on a matter as important as this. However, one never quite knows whether or not to pick up such gauntlets in cyberspace in contexts like this one which aren’t necessarily intended to host lengthy debate, so for that reason I’m going to err on the side of discretion this time.

  4. I was starting to look into moving to England from The Netherlands because I wanted to enter a Benedictine convent somewhere. Brexit has changed everything.

    I am now looking around in The Netherlands and Germany, but the culture is so different from what I’m used to. We’ll see what happens. I hope there will be a provision for EU citizens wanting to move to the UK. I can always wave my Bachelor degree around, I guess. I’m praying, too.

  5. Back in the first Common Market referendum, when I was too young to vote, I thought we should not enter what was then just a common market. I think that if the first referendum had been held before we joined, instead of after, we might not have joined.

    Forty some odd years on and I am still of the opinion that we should not have joined but, and it’s a big BUT, I do not now believe it is in our best interests to leave. If the 2016 referendum was re-run now that some of the implications of leaving are sinking in, the vote might go the other way.

    We might be in danger of becoming Little England, isolated and irrelevant to global events.

  6. As you know, I’m one of the people for whom the triggering of Brexit tomorrow is a disaster of major proportions. I don’t think it was only the idealism of youth in 1973. I believe we rejected the ‘Little Englander’ mentality, that is now returning, in favour of an international view of common humanity, and that we were right then, even if we were young!

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