Something is stirring out there. We have lived now for far too long with politics dominated by the same old Brexiteers and anti-Brexiteers, slugging it out in precisely the same way as they did back in 2016.
It is in fact depressing that so few people have changed their minds since then, according to a recent poll. But then, once I reflect with a little self-knowledge, I realise that I’m one of them. I haven’t changed my mind either. I nailed my colours firmly to the fence in 2016 (as they said in 1905) but voted to remain. I would probably do the same again, if there was a second referendum.
I can’t believe I am the only waverer – I can hardly be described as a floating voter – with a connection to Radix and the radical centre. I know there are some people who feel that the very essence of the radical centre idea is a defence of the European Union. Yet only a few days ago, there was a sharp exchange on this very blog between people who had voted differently.
I am a Liberal and have always been so, which means I have some sympathy with the argument that the EU is too centralised, too obsessed with big bureaucracies, with central control and central banks, with big businesses. I am cross with them for failing to help David Cameron when he needed it – with obvious results. I fear that the EU’s technocracy is directly fuelling the rise of the far right across Europe.
So why didn’t I vote to leave? The answer is that, although I think a new trade dispensation is possible – even preferable – it requires a radical rethinking of so many of the assumption behind the way we have been governed, And I don’t believe Theresa May or Boris Johnson are radical thinkers in any way. They are manipulators, innately suspicious of new ideas.
I wrote an account of the last Brexit last year and it has sold rather well. But for the run-up to Dunkirk in 1940 required, not just a rethink of policy on everything, but a clear-out of the dead wood in government from the past generation.
To make any kind of success of Brexit this time, to avoid the looming disaster, we need to do the same.
But I said something was stirring and I keep finding myself having conversations with people who agree with this position. They could accept Brexit if it was part of a wider vision of a greener, more devolved UK, where we are not simply replacing EU with American or Chinese overlordship.
Boris Johnson appears to have come to a parallel conclusion which explains his speech last week about a ‘liberal Brexit’. But I don’t think he takes anyone in, either that he has a Liberal vision or that it amounts to anything new.
Even so, I can see – a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand – the emerging Brexit-inspired debate about a vision for the UK. And I hope that, despite the occasional spat, we can start the debate here at Radix.
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