Sunday, 26 June 2016
Brexit: stupid, stupid, stupid
The one comforting thought as Britain shot itself in the foot this week was that stupid prophetic speculation wasn't a factor. A few thousand voters may have been directly influenced by this kind of dispensationalist nonsense, but the size of the winning margin made them totally irrelevant.
While the drama unfolded in the small hours in Europe, those of us half a world away - and lucky enough to have both the time and the technology to do so - could follow events over the course of daylight hours. I monitored BBC coverage (BBC News channel and World Service radio) to start with then moved across to ITV. For light relief I cushioned my disbelief with a panel discussion on Channel 5 once the results were known.
It's increasingly clear that a few old adages are appropriate: (1) be careful what you wish for, and (2) repent at leisure.
Brexit was a project of the far right (think Nigel Farage) appropriated by some of the vilest, self-serving figures in the Conservative Party establishment, think Boris Johnson. David Cameron took on the referendum for purely mercenary political motives and will now go down in history as one of country's worst Prime Ministers.
The reality is that the disadvantaged demographic in England and Wales that fell for the dog-whistle anti-immigration rhetoric - believing the unbelievable promises about prosperity and increased social funding - will now be the first to feel the effects of a downturn that they voted for. Labour was utterly ineffectual - and internally divided - in presenting an alternate, realistic narrative.
And so, what will happen over Gibraltar?
More importantly, what will the effect be of dropping a lighted match on the delicate equilibrium in Northern Ireland?
How will the Scots respond? A version of the Danish enigma (Denmark belongs to the EU but two territories - the Faroe Islands and Greenland - don't) or a fuller independence?
The scary thing is that many British voters simply didn't think through the consequences, and particularly the baby boomers, sucking at the teat of nostalgia and a world that has now passed into history.
I'd be surprised if Johnson is ever elected Prime Minister - though he may be appointed after Cameron - as he has alienated young Brits. As reality hits home to the rest of the community it's unlikely that he'll ever be flavour of the month. He can expect a lot more booing.
Prophecy? No. Stupidity? Yes, in spades.