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After the sky has fallen…

By MICHAEL BLACKBURN.

I AWOKE ON the morning of Friday, 24th June, to be told that the British electorate had voted to leave the EU and consequently the sky had fallen in, the world markets had crashed, sterling was worth as much as Monopoly money, world war three was about to commence and the future of all young people under 24 was cancelled.

Except that, after all the threats and predictions delivered by the Remain campaign of the EU Referendum, none of these catastrophes happened. There was a serious loss incurred by the surprise exit vote, however, and that was my wager of £50 at the bookies. I was one of those people who put their money where their mouth is and, not being convinced the vote would be big enough, bet on Remain just winning. As it turns out, the numbers – 48 to remain, 52 to leave – were much as I thought they would be, just the wrong way round. But never have I been so happy to be wrong.

This was a dawn I had wished for but withheld any hope for. The polls had been showing a clear lead for exit for a couple of weeks before but like many people I was chary of believing the pollsters after they got so much of it wrong at the last general election. I was heartened but again not completely convinced that things were going our way by the fact that the only posters and signs I’d seen anywhere (from Lincolnshire, across the Midlands, right down into south Wales) had been red “Vote Leave” ones.

So I was as shocked as many others when the result was announced. Not as shocked as the Remainers, though, who have maintained a relentless stream of abuse, hysteria and accusation against the mob who dared to vote leave. This is a continuation of Project Fear as it was dubbed, the attempt to terrify the population into falling into line with the establishment with predictions of economic Armageddon after Brexit. And it was rather successful, I have to admit. A few people I know who were lukewarm about the EU were persuaded to vote Remain because of fears about the economy.

Project Fear continues, nevertheless, fuelled by the media, who continue to emphasise the fall in the markets in the immediate aftermath of the vote, despite the swift recovery since then. Twitter and Facebook are awash with so much bile and hatred it’s almost pathological. People are so deluded they’re signing a bogus petition demanding a second referendum (showing how much they’ve come to resemble the EU in its own practice of not accepting democratic votes). As well as not having been proofread, the petition is stuffed with fake signatories and demands retrospective legislation, an absolute non-starter.

panicTHE PRESS IS FULL of stories about young people being in tears because they think “old people” have betrayed them. They point out that 73% of young people voted to remain in the EU. Those young complainers would be more justified in their griping if, after having been given extra time to register their vote, they had bothered to get themselves down to a polling station and put an X where they wanted. It turns out that only a likely 36% of them did so. Harsh lesson, kids: if you don’t vote you don’t have much chance of getting what you want.

It doesn’t occur to them that older people may partly have made their decision out of a desire to help the young (ie, their own grandchildren). The fact that youth unemployment across a lot of the EU is in double figures – 50% at the moment in Spain – hasn’t sunk in. It wouldn’t, really, because they won’t have been told that by the truth-lovers of the Remain campaign or the BBC. Anyway, they don’t articulate how they’ve been betrayed, they simply feel it, and that’s enough these days.

There’s no doubt that result has been a bigger shock to the political and media establishment than anyone else. Cameron obviously never expected to lose it.

There’s no doubt that result has been a bigger shock to the political and media establishment than anyone else. Cameron obviously never expected to lose it. He’d pulled this referendum trick with Scotland and won it, so he no doubt thought he could win this one, too. The media, sure of their own invincible cleverness, laid the anti-leave propaganda on by the bucket load. The Remain campaign reached the lowest point when they took advantage of the murder of the Labour MP, Jo Cox, at the hands of a local man with mental problems. As a pro-immigrant MP she was raised to the stature of a victim of Brexit terrorism when Thomas Mair, the suspect, gave his name in court as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”. It was despicable.

As I pointed out in a previous article the political establishment has proved to be out of touch, arrogant and about to suffer a Peasants’ Revolt, which duly arrived on June 24th. The out vote was widespread throughout England and Wales. Scotland, London and other areas unsurprisingly voted to remain. The Labour Party, now in a state of civil war, suffered the humiliation of having huge tracts of its power base in the north turn against it and vote leave.

In the initial aftermath Cameron, having nailed his colours to the mast of Remain, made an appearance to say he was resigning and then vanished again for a couple of days. George Osborne, the Chancellor, went completely AWOL for three days before giving a press conference in which he ruled himself out of a Tory leadership contest.

It’s quite obvious that many MPs simply do not realise the import of what has happened. David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, says the economic results of Brexit would be calamitous and that because the referendum is not legally binding it should be ignored (another one who’s imbibed the EU Kool-Aid). He talks about the years of neglect that led to so many people voting leave, totally oblivious to the fact that he and his chums have happily ignored those voters for years – particularly when it comes to mass immigration.

ceausescuIN A SESSION of BBC’s Question Time, always a good barometer of the temperature of the political elite, both Tory Anna Soubry and Labour’s Diane Abbott, showed themselves to have not the slightest understanding of why people voted the way they did. I keep remembering the look on Ceausescu’s face when the crowd started booing him during his speech, shortly before he and his wife were hauled off and machine-gunned to death. He didn’t have the slightest idea of what the peasants felt, either.

And why did people vote as they did? Lord Ashcroft’s company released information that shows the top reason people voted out was: “The principle that decisions made about the UK should be made in the UK”. An unequivocal declaration for sovereignty, I’d say. Concern about immigration and border control came second and worries about having no choice in the expanding powers of the EU third. As my next door neighbour (retired, working class, home-owner, local man) put it: “we don’t want these foreigners telling us what to do, do we?”

I don’t trust the politicians, of course. I fear they’re already trying to work out ways of keeping us in the EU without delivering any real changes on border control and immigration. They can delay talks and activating Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and trust people will lose interest over time. They could plan a “renegotiation” just before the next election. They can hope the angry shock among their EU partners will turn to a more benign approach. They can hope, maybe, that the growing resentment of the EU right across Europe impels the Commission to come up with some face-saving compromise to keep us in. Whatever it is they may do, they will have willing accomplices in the media, that’s for sure.

So, as I said before, this could be just the beginning of a long revolt. If the politicians don’t honour the referendum result with its clear demand to leave the European Union (not sort of leave it, or half leave it) it will just prolong the argument and lead to a bigger breakdown of trust between the people and their elected representatives. On the other hand, I may just allow myself a scintilla of hope. The sky hasn’t fallen yet.


suxcoverCurrente Calamo columnist, poet, writer and lecturer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire . From 2005–2008 he was the Royal Literary Fund fellow at the University of Lincoln where he now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent collection is Spyglass Over The Lagoon. A selection of his Fortnightly Currente Calamo columns, Sucks To Your Revolution: Annoying The Politically Correct (US), is available as a Kindle ebook.

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