A peculiar new feature of public discourse about the EU Referendum and Brexit is the emerging theme that people who voted to Remain in the EU should ‘stop whinging’ and ‘get with the programme’. To which I would reply, quite reasonably in my view, ‘exactly what programme do you think I should get with?’
I have been trying to put myself into the mindset of the Brexiteers, but so far have come up empty. It strikes me that there are really only a few options. Either they were misled by the obvious lies and jingoism of the Leave campaign – in which case they should publicly disclaim their vote and join the call for a fresh one. Or they knew all along that it was just lies and jingoism, but really just hated Europe on such a base level that they didn’t care about the total lack of a viable programme for Brexit or the ensuing chaos.
In short, they were either misled or – to quote the popular film – they just wanted to watch the world burn.
There is, of course, the 3rd group – the ‘I don’t like the Government so I’ll use the Referendum to send them a message’ group. To which I would say that perhaps they could have used their vote in the General Election just 13 months earlier to do that and saved us all an awful lot of bother. To this group I would also say “this is why you can’t have nice things” before asking them to sit on the naughty step while they think about what they’ve done.
Then there are the ‘distant horizon’ fantasists who insist that Britain will be alright eventually once this Brexit business is out of the way because, you know, Hovis and The Empire. Which is like chopping off the tree branch you’re standing on with a Union Jack-coloured axe and believing it’ll be OK because the branch will eventually grow back.
At the moment, our national conversation seems to be along the lines…
Rational people: “Did you make a mess on the floor?”
R: “Well there seems to be this mess on the floor…”
B: “It’s fine”
R: “Well it isn’t really fine is it? Are you going to clear it up?”
B: “I’m going to make a plan for clearing it up”
R: “Well, when can I see your plan for clearing up the mess you made on the floor”
B: “Not telling you”
R: “Don’t you think that, if you make a mess on the floor, you ought to clean it up, given that we all have to live with it?”
B: “Oh my God, you’re so tragic for pointing out the mess on the floor, you’re not my real mum etc etc..” (goes off in a huff)
So you’ll forgive me if after due consideration I once again reach the conclusion that none of these people has anything faintly resembling a programme that anyone sane would want to ‘get with’. Nor is it whinging to point this out. Pointing out that there’s a toddler staggering around with a loaded handgun isn’t whinging – it’s rational.
So, to the easily-led, the world-burners and the protest-voters I say, no. I won’t get with your programme until you have one. When you have one I’ll look at it dispassionately and decide on a balance of costs and benefits whether it was worth the chaos, uncertainty, tumbling exchange rates, disastrously ham-fisted diplomatic offence and sheer ludicrous idiocy of cutting off access to Social Funding for the parts of the country that need it the most.
I am looking forward to it. Really I am.