On Tuesday night I tried to tweet some thoughts about Brexit:
I tried to write something about Brexit here and now I've gone to find the gin.
— Michael Mokrysz (@46bit) March 28, 2017
71% of my agegroup was for Remain. I was very much for Remain; I’m still very much for Remain. The level of emotional attachment on either side is severe. This is going to run and run.
With Article 50 now triggered it seems fairly sure we’re headed ‘out’ in some form. This seems set to dominate the headlines and the government for years to come. This will be years of (at best) standing still, instead of actual governance.
For me the best outcomes would be an EEA-style deal or if not then Associate EU Citizenship. Associate EU Citizenship is the idea that those Brits who choose could retain EU Citizenship on some level. For all sorts of reasons it seems rather unlikely.
I don’t expect I’ll ‘get behind Brexit’ for the same reason I’d not pick up a copy of the Daily Mail: it’s a crafted narrative giving the worst of humanity. I hope that we’ll regret this as a nation, but I expect a lot of bitterness if and as the downsides hit.
Those native Brits able to claim EU Citizenship are doing so, and those with an interest in retaining links to the EU have suddenly become keen to move there while Free Movement remains intact.
As for non-Brits in York, I’ve overheard discussions as to whether people want to fill out 85-page residence forms or go find somewhere more willing to have them - particularly relevant here at the University, when research is often funded and conducted on a continental or worldwide scale. As of yet I’m still not sure whether to apologise or hug them.
We already had issues
Here’s things the country now needs to deal with that aren’t the EU negotiation:
- The SNP would like to revote on independence and Northern Ireland’s status is unknowable. I wish the people of Scotland all the best whatever they decide, and hypothetically similar for NI.
- The housing crisis eating working people’s incomes will continue on.
- The slide towards buying later will make saving for retirement or any other purpose ever more distant, making us poorer.
- University fees will start to creep upwards at the ‘higher quality’ Universities, to encourage students to balance debt against opportunity.
- High wages will move to the Continent for access reasons.
- The NHS, its staff and its patient may suffer terribly from a lack of nurses.
- Civil liberties and leglisation to protect the world may or may not go in a worse direction.
There are bigger issues to come
We’re also headed for quite a few anthropogenic disasters. None of these should read surprising:
- Temperatures will rise.
- All coral reefs on Earth may die; ocean acidification will wreak wider havoc (source.)
- Glaciers are melting, leaving rivers emptier in the summer.
- Crop failures will grow.
- Extreme climate events will worsen.
- Methane releases from permafrost may grow.
- Some of the Middle East may experience unlivable heatwaves (source.)
- Seas will rise in ways entirely outside our experience.
- People in poorer countries will continue to seek better lives, or any life at all.
This is a depressing list - I could list as many good, hopeful things just as easily. The point is that these things matter, a lot, to our future.
Brexit is at best a distraction to these problems. If the referendum and EU scapegoating is a snapshot of how the UK will cope with these stressors, it bodes very badly for our society.