This is the text of a letter written by Richard Bronk, a Visiting Fellow at the European Institute of the London School of Economics, to two Conservative MPs, one a friend, with whom he was in correspondence. The letter (which has been anonymised) was written to foster a better understanding of how many of the 48% who voted Remain are thinking and feeling following the vote – and thereby contribute to efforts to bridge the dangerous chasm opening up between most of the UK’s great cities, universities and the young, on the one hand, and the new Brexit government on the other.
I don’t get this idea that “we should not betray the majority who voted Leave”. Or the idea that ”we should just leave the Leave side to sort out the mess they have created”. We are all in this together, including the youngsters who overwhelmingly voted to Remain and will be still suffering the consequences when many of the elderly Leave voters have died.
A lot of betrayals have occurred. We were all betrayed by the Government, which held a referendum that hardly anyone wanted, in the pursuit of a struggle between right-wing factions and an openly racist minority party.
The Leave voters were betrayed by Cameron, who promised the Government would act immediately on a Leave vote, and then didn’t.
The Leave voters were betrayed by their own side, who made promises they never intended to keep, and that would be impossible to carry out anyway. That had no plan. And made the campaign overwhelmingly about immigration, with a unmissable racist theme.
And the Remain experts, the ones Leave said to ignore, were proved right.
Whatever is done now, there are unpleasant things going to happen. If we leave the EU, the UK will break up and England (outside London anyway) will suffer more economically than it does now – and as a result there will be disaffected Leave voters. If we don’t, we still have a massive problem with an emboldened extreme right and disaffected Leave voters.
But undoubtedly leaving the EU will be worst. Don’t forget that, when we negotiate with the EU, they have experienced negotiators – the ones that we have for the last forty years paid to negotiate on our behalf as part of the world’s strongest trading bloc – and we shall be represented on the political side by the same ignorant, incompetent and corrupt politicians who visited this disaster on us.
The referendum was not binding on the Government. It is time for Parliament to assert its sovereignty, behave like adults for once, debate the referendum and the reasons for the results, and then (hopefully) reject the result once and for all. There are very good reasons to do so.
Then the Government should begin without further ado to try to undo the damage it has done to whatever extent that is possible. To reestablish full cooperation with our European partners. To investigate the economic circumstances that led to protest votes against the political system. To create a voting system that allows people peacefully and fully to reflect their concerns through Parliament. To end the economically illiterate and disastrous policy of austerity.
The country was lied into a war by a raft of criminals, greedheads, and geopolitical fantasts. These latter were enabled by a cowardly political opposition and a largely supine elite press. Hans Blix was right. Paul Wolfowitz was wrong. Robert Fisk was right. David Frum was wrong. The McClatchy guys were right. The late Tim Russert was wrong. Eric Shinseki was right, and Anthony Zinni was right, and Joe Wilson was right, and George Packer, Michael O’Hanlon, and Richard Perle were all wrong. George H.W. Bush was right (in 1989) and his useless son was stupid and wrong. There is no absolution available to any of the people who helped the country down into this epic political and military disaster no matter how lachrymose their apologies or how slick their arguments.
George W. Bush should spend the rest of his days dogged by regiments of wounded veterans. Richard Cheney should be afflicted at all hours by the howls of widows and of mothers who have lost sons and daughters. Colin Powell — and his pal, MSNBC star Lawrence Wilkerson — should shut the hell up about how sorry they are and go off to a monastery somewhere to do penance for what they didn’t have the balls to try and stop. This catastrophe killed more actual people than it killed the careers of the people who planned it and cheered it on. We should all be ashamed. And we’re not.
Not to mention that the Afghanistan adventure, the Iraq war and the subsequent conflicts have spread islamic fundamentalism throughout the world. As a result of these wars, it has confidence and gained wings.