It’s now nearly a week since the Brexit vote. What the ramifications of this will be is still very unclear. Unintended consequences might be the predominant trend. Very few UKIP supporters and Leave voters want Scottish independence, but they have certainly made that a very much greater probability. Most Leave voters are not thugs and racists, but they have certainly emboldened those who are, greatly endangering peace and stability within our communities and across our continent, possibly for many decades to come. Whether this Brexit vote will trigger a general election, who will lead the Tory and the Labour parties and how quickly Britain will actually leave the EU, if indeed it actually does, all this is still being fought over.
I have been a strong supporter of the EU for decades. I see myself as European. I’ve lived and worked in various parts of the continent. The EU has been perhaps the greatest peacemaking organisation in the history of humanity. My father, grandfather and many relatives fought in European wars and expected me and my generation to have to do so to. We did not have to. The last 70 years has been the most peaceful period possibly in the entire history of the continent, in no small part due to the actions of those who built the EU. The EU has also led the world in environmental legislation, human rights and much else.
The EU certainly has its downside. The system of unelected commissioners was a deep democratic flaw. Some of its rules and regulations were pretty potty, or unnecessarily bureaucratic. However the UK has its own democratic deficit and bureaucratic muddle, entirely of its own making. I see no greater chance of improvement outside the EU than within.
Most Greens and activists for social justice campaigned to Remain in the EU, although a significant minority chose to campaign to Leave. Now Greens and social progressives are regrouping, trying to envisage where the potential to seize a better future lies in this new situation. How best to counter the undoubtedly strengthened forces of intolerance, xenophobia and racism that have been unleashed… How best to secure the socially just and ecologically sustainable future we see as so vital to all of our survival…
It feels like tectonic plates of UK politics might be about to change in complex ways, much of which is distinctly scary, but there are also positive themes. Many groups are calling for a progressive alliance, one aspect of which is an open letter from leaders of the Green Party to leaders of Labour, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru. Interesting times!