A little while back I imagined a positive and negative outcome to this whole Brexit shambles. I was asked to revisit this. I have to be honest I have found this difficult, seeing the intense mistruths being spread by Boris Johnson and his party in this extremely dirty election campaign has made it difficult to feel anything other than dismay and fear. Boris Johnson has run a campaign where he has evaded scrutiny, promised a few crazy things to buy people and threw out the soundbites one after the other and I am fearful that the British public are buying his nonsense. But here are my two scenarios. Let’s look at the bad stuff first.
It’s the 31 December 2020. Boris Johnson got a majority in the general election of 2019. The dirtiest election ever, every trick in the book and then some was employed and thrown at the public during the campaign – fake tweets, fake websites, doubling down on lies by Johnson and his cronies. Johnson kept just bouncing back in the polls like a great yellow beach ball that someone had drawn a vacant face with a smile on, vacant because his manifesto was so vacuous and his soundbites so fake. Sadly arguments between the other party activists got in the way of the campaign for tactical voting which was being promoted by Pro EU activists across the country.
With a majority in parliament, having replaced all his honourable One Nation Tories and Remain MPs with shiny new Super Brexity Tory MPs willing to do absolutely anything because they wanted to get a job in government, the withdrawal agreement was passed. The biggest lie “Get Brexit Done” has proven to be a bit tricky. The free trade agreement with the EU is not in place and as of midnight the country essentially has no more arrangements, on anything except airspace. The transition arrangements end, and the country has paid an absolute fortune in No-deal planning. The Business community are furious and rather wishing they had not fallen for the scaremongering about a minority labour government. Meanwhile talks have been ongoing with the US administration. The control of drug pricing is still on the table though Johnson refuses to admit this. No deal is in sight yet.
The continuing uncertainty has not been good for business. Anxiously watching the news every day at the slow progress of the terms of access to trade with the EU, directors and CEOs everywhere who had not already triggered contingencies last year have taken this transition period to do so. The promised growth has not come. Tax receipts are down so the money tree has wilted and died.
The Tory No-deal Architects are about to get their way. Their hedge fund investments betting against the economy and currency speculations have been very rewarding so they are smiling to themselves when they get up in the morning. They know the next step will be a rowing back of regulation in the labour market in order to try and make us more competitive in a world with no trade deals to speak of. Their plans are coming on nicely.
The pound has been all over the place as, the reality is we are no closer to knowing much about our future relationships with any of the big players. There were some deals rolled over by countries such as the Faroe Islands. Prices have continued to increase. Small Business is worried about the impending difficulty in getting supplies as our trading arrangements have failed to materialise and we are coming to the deadline. Johnson with his majority has made some constitutional changes which are making protest against the government difficult, they introduced legislation to stop governments being taken to court by citizens trying to make constitutional challenges.
Parliament still must talk about Brexit every day. The Russia report was never published by some government sleight of hand and most of the police enquiries into the 2016 referendum have now been kicked into the long grass. EU27 citizens have left in droves to live their lives somewhere they feel welcome.
Some things haven’t changed. There are still people living in tents in shop doorways. There are still food banks. Disabled and sick people are still being badly assessed for PIP. Wages are not going up in line with living costs. The NHS has not been able to address any of its staff shortage problems. The Care System sees no end in sight. The new immigration rules are not helping to get their positions filled from anywhere in the world when migrants can do better elsewhere. The brain drain is still a thing. There were 5 football grounds built in the regions to the trumpeting of Johnson and the viability reports are still being carried out on 6 hospitals.
Racism is still alive and well. The far right now has representation in parliament via a Tory party which had already started its journey to the right long before this point. There are no unicorns here.
The news every night is still about Brexit. Why did we Brexit? What will happen next? How is the government going to solve the no-deal crisis at the end of transition? What about the supply problems? When are we going to see a stronger pound? When is the USA going to give us a deal? How many years of negotiations are ahead of us?
Government ministers fill our screens with the tired Brexit soundbites and keep repeating the mantra that this is the will of the people.
Nobody with any power is talking about climate change any more.
We clink our glasses to see the new year in with heavy hearts and fear about the continuing degradation of our political system which has completely forgotten it’s there to solve our problems not to make them for us.
The political shitshow continues.
It’s all a nightmare, right? Well now don’t just imagine but visualise this instead!
It’s the 31st of December 2020.
On the 12th December 2019 people finally got the message that they needed to find a path to end Brexit and it wasn’t going to be the shamelessly mendacious Tory plan. Activists from across parties worked together to get rid of Brexiter Candidates across the country. Wherever the constituency looked like it would benefit from Tactical voting, pro EU activists campaigned for the Remain/Peoples Vote candidate who could win, regardless of party. Dominic Grieve won back his seat as an independent.
Labour won but needed to get the cooperation of other parties to be able to form a government. Lib Dems, SNP and Greens all agreed they would work with Labour within a loose alliance arrangement and not a coalition. They allowed Labour to go to the EU. The deal that came back was basically May’s withdrawal agreement with customs union alignment and a form of access to the single market.
Labour kept their promise to have a referendum, their new idea of how to leave versus remain. Parliament agreed the terms of the referendum and we had a very tough and comprehensive nationwide examination and direct comparison of the deal being proposed to leave and our existing EU membership. The forces that tried to steal the votes in 2016 were still there but we were ready for them. Realities were laid bare. False information on both sides was dealt with by broadcasters with proper challenge. Young voters engaged and supported the campaigns. Remain won the argument and the referendum, after some important rules around online campaigning and paid for advertising were imposed. The people of the UK had had enough and wanted Brexit to end so they voted to make it end! They wanted investment in services, and housing and financial growth to be the centre of the political attention once more.
Article 50 was duly revoked. Parliament immediately launched a wide-ranging consultation process trying to determine with communities around the country what initiatives were needed in the regions to improve the lives of all our people.
A few thousand angry people turned up to protest in London after article 50 was revoked whipped up by Farage etc. There were pockets of nastiness, but the numbers weren’t big enough to stop the overwhelming majority of citizens around the country from heaving a huge sigh of relief.
The pound soared back upwards. The FTSE stabilised and strengthened steadily. Companies engaged in plans to invest in the future knowing where we were going. Brexit is no longer on the news every night. Structural problems in various industrial sectors can be viewed and addressed by business with clarity, without the constant white noise of Brexit interfering with their thinking.
There was a huge media feature on homelessness. The Government announced a cross party initiative to address the issues of housing needs in the UK. There is work being done on how to improve economic growth, training and recruitment in the NHS and social care and they are once again busy talking about inequality, equality in the workplace, taxation and foreign policy. Parliament is working actively on all the issues which affect people’s lives.
Our MPs now see more normal post bags and can concentrate on helping their individual constituents more effectively. The feeling of constant division has been removed in our political environment despite a minority government relying on working cross party to operate. There are still some extremely abusive emails, but these are now easy to report and ignore. Politicians report they are also getting many more thoughtful letters on a wide range of issues, as more people have woken up to political engagement and want to communicate with their MPs to make their communities and country better.
Yes, many people were and still are angry and they threaten never to vote again. But as the weeks go on, and people around them are starting to smile again and they don’t hear the word Brexit on the news and new jobs are announced as firms feel able to invest in expansion plans instead of contingency plans, they start to feel secretly relieved too. They laugh at the satirical jokes along with everybody else and they don’t know it yet, but this time next year they will quietly wonder why they voted to leave the EU in the first place.
The racists are still there of course, but the unexpected power that Brexit gave them has been undermined. Their voices are still loud, but their platform is broken. The toxic right of politics is still attracting certain kinds of people whose view of the world is narrow, but as the population ages, just as with the Conservatives, their most fertile and effective audience at the ballot box will decline. We are starting to patch up the damage done to our relationships with the EU27 citizens amongst us who have been treated so appallingly.
The EU is doing work on the climate change crisis. We are proudly playing our part in that with our partners. Via the EU we are also continuing to address the problems of Tax Evasion and money laundering. The Revoke decision has given a new sense of energy and hope to the progressive parties and their voters right across the EU. Politicians are keen to embrace the optimism. The British public are better informed now about what the EU does and are communicating with our MEPS more. MEPS of all parties are now being asked on news programmes whereas previously they were all ignored apart from Nigel Farage.
Life is getting back to normal but a new mass of motivated, politically engaged, intelligent people, experienced in campaigning for change are looking at ways they can support our democratic systems so the entire population is better represented in parliament and populist extremes cannot be foisted on us again. We must remain alert to the continuing dangers of the far right and nationalism across the world.
We clink our glasses to see the new year in with a profound sense of relief and hope. We are optimistic for the future. We see the battles are not over, they never will be, but we understand now that complacency is the biggest enemy and our generation will not make this mistake again. We must no longer look away from our problems home or away but seek to solve them together.
That’s more like it.
Imagine this, visualise this, make it happen. Use your vote wisely on Thursday and make it count. Check your constituency. Tactical Voting may help you deny a Tory majority. We have too much to lose not to try.