The New Religion of Brexit
Finally, after 9 months of legal battles and back and forth in parliament, it looks like Article 50 is about to be triggered and the UK can start its negotiations with the EU. No going back from that point. It seems since the vote months ago that hard Brexit is now a religion, an unstoppable dogma that cannot be argued with. The UK is willing to sacrifice almost everything for the promised hard Brexit. Turn this island into a tax haven? Sure, why not. Public Services? Tories were getting rid of them anyway. Even the United Kingdom itself is being sacrificed on the pyre. It’s become an absolute destination and damn the consequences.
Hard Brexit has become a religion. It is a faith-based political manoeuvre. Brexit will save the country, give the people back control. Never mind the facts. The Prime Minister has attacked the problem of leaving the European with religious zeal. She wasn’t signed up before, as she campaigned for Remain, but now she is a true believer and has seen the light. Like all those who are born again, she is vehement and absolute in her belief. Now she has just gained the power to trigger Article 50 by herself, instead of parliament triggering it. She has pushed for absolute power and been granted it. Throughout the discussions in parliament, The Prime Minister and the government have been dogmatic in their insistence that they are doing the right thing. They have refused to listen to any objections, about EU nationals or about parliament having the final say. It is the tactics of a bully or a cult leader. There has been little or no objection from Labour, who have allowed this hard Brexit to flourish. Everyone is worshiping at the altar of hard Brexit. The religious fervour has infected everyone
It is not just the government who have dug their heels in, it is many of those who voted for it. The true faith has gripped everyone, absolute and unwavering. Any discussion about the alternative outcomes or tactics has been shouted down. Those who question the government’s tactics in preparing for Brexit are exiled from the congregation and called remoaners. In a fine example of cognitive dissonance, those who think they have made a bad choice or were unsure are now absolute believers in the glory of full Brexit. They cannot bear to be challenged because the belief transcends facts or information. The belief is all that counts. It is what sustains people now the battle is over. It’s religion without proof, the definition of faith.
The government has drunk so much of the kool-aid that the recent announcement of a new Scottish referendum for independence came as a broadside and a surprise. But it shouldn’t have done. Theresa May has refused to listen to anyone or speak with anyone about her plans for Brexit. Instead of consulting the devolved powers and being open about her plans for the forthcoming negotiations with the EU, the Prime Minister has shrouded everything in a veil of secrecy. She is a cult leader, unwilling to completely divulge all the mysteries to keep people believing. She believes herself to be absolutely in the right. Never mind that the United Kingdom may break up because of the tactics she has chosen. Scotland is merely an inconvenience. Many of the people who voted Brexit are saying they never needed Scotland anyway. There is anger that they are interfering in the one true path. Brexit is the destination. Brexit is the promised land.
I worry that as we approach the important negotiations, this strong-arm secrecy is only going to harm the UK. The whole point of negotiations is to listen to the other side, to compromise and to find common ground. To find a deal that is mutually beneficial to both sides. We head into this most crucial time for the UK with an unelected Prime Minister who is unwilling to listen to objections and with only the promises of politicians to keep our rights and the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. The only problem is that politician’s promises are made of smoke and at the slightest puff of wind they vanish into thin air. We go into these negotiations with nothing, demanding very little from the EU, having angered many of the nations with our callous, destructive approach. It is the worst way to go ahead. It is going to be like arguing with a brick wall as small, insignificant UK attempts to threaten something larger than itself.
What is most frustrating about the situation is that it didn’t have to be this way. Sure, Brexit was a necessity. It needed to happen, especially after the vote. But it did not need to happen in this destructive, dangerous way. The government could have been open about their plans. They could have listened to the concerns of those who voted to stay and those who voted to leave. They could have addressed them all as much as possible and gone into the negotiations with a clear plan, having not alienated member states of the EU. The vote was to leave the EU, not necessarily in this extreme way. The religious fever took hold and now we have Brexit by any means.
I don’t know what is going to happen in the next two years. No one does. That is why it is important to be suspicious of anyone who claims absolute knowledge about how the negotiations are going to go down. Especially if that person happens to be the Prime Minister. I just hope this fever is shaken off soon and people start to realise that hard Brexit isn’t the holy land after all.