The most significant news item of 2017 was the same one that broke in 2016, and which continues to dominate the headlines to this day. I’m talking about Brexit.

Has there ever been a more divisive subject? It splits the country right down the middle, but not along the usual partisan lines. It divides left from left and right from right.

Personally, I voted to leave, as some of you may remember. I didn’t vote this way because I hate foreigners, or because I prefer a blue passport to a burgundy one. I voted to leave because the EU is itself a reactionary organisation, committed to austerity and the neoliberal agenda.

It destroyed the Greek economy in order to prop up European banks. If that doesn’t make you question its priorities, then nothing will.

That’s what is so strange about the whole Brexit debate. Most of the issues are never talked about. Instead we have a form of megaphone politics, in which different factions of the Conservative Party shout slogans at each other over the airwaves, while the rest of us are excluded.

If anything shows the failure of our media in the 21st Century, it is Brexit.

It has also made for some peculiar bed fellows. So we have Michael Heseltine suggesting that it would be better to have Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street than to continue with Brexit, while Tony Blair is saying the opposite: that stopping Brexit is more important than electing Labour.

Of course, now that we have finished phase one of the negotiations, everyone can see just how traumatic the process is going to be. Britain will certainly be a poorer country for a while than it was before.

This was inevitable really. The EU can’t afford to make our exit easy as this might start an avalanche of other countries wanting to leave.

The question now is, what kind of future do we see for ourselves?

Is it the deregulated, off-shore tax haven for the super rich that the current Tory government are attempting to create, or a Britain of worker’s rights and public services of the kind that Jeremy Corbyn would prefer?

I suspect that decision might come sooner than you think.


From The Canterbury Gazette 04/01/18

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