By Jodi Jones
“We were told miracles would be performed with money the leave campaign team knew they would never have to spare.”
There are three things we are told not to mention in polite conversation: money, religion and politics.
However, our country is currently performing a dangerous balancing act and the topic that is being discussed over family dinners and cheeky pints alike is Brexit.
The main topic of debate is of course, whether we should proceed with the deadline our esteemed Prime Minister has managed to land us with. A subsection of this is the proposed second referendum. As a firm remainer, I fully support the idea of a second referendum.
The idea of having a second referendum is not a new one. People were clambering for it seconds after the last one but with the deadline of March 29th looming, it has quickly become an ever present debate.
In terms of politics, at its most basic level, it just makes sense. With many people calling out for a second referendum, the government would be smart to try and cover their asses. Future generations will be asking why Brexit happened, with such low voter turnout, and so with a second referendum, the conservatives will have a ready made scapegoat for the inevitable fallout and accusations.
In the last decade, people have become more frustrated with immigration as a result of the media attack on immigrants themselves. They are the new scapegoats to replace the open homophobia, the racism and the antisemitism from before.
It’s a natural human response when we feel ourselves failing to find someone to pin that on and in austerity Britain, it was easy to blame ‘the immigrants for stealing our jobs’ than to admit that our government made bad financial decisions and that we had a highly trained workforce for an industry that no longer needed them.
The result of this was an emotion-fuelled backlash on the easiest targets. When people are told something by an authority figure, they are inclined to believe. And news outlets and politicians alike were making unfounded promises of hard borders and harsh immigration laws.
However, since the scaremongering has reduced, there has been a noticeable drop in those calling for stricter immigration laws. According to a NatCen study, there has been a 15% drop over the past two years in people who think the immigration laws for EU residents should be the same as from those elsewhere. This implies it would no longer be such a deciding factor for many voters who may then vote differently.
The main slogan for the leave campaign was ‘Take back control.’ And that is appealing to many people. We were told by the media that the EU were handing out laws like sweets at Halloween and we were being forced to abide by them. We were told that we had no say, and no control. We were told with Brexit, we as an island would finally have pre-EU power back. And that was very appealing to a lot of the population.
This is especially true when paired with an empty promise to find an extra £3bn for an NHS which is struggling to cope with the demands it is facing. The NHS is underfunded and overcrowded.
We have brilliant doctors like Shashi Awai being threatened with deportation and members of the public abusing A&Efor minor complaints. It was never set up to cater for an ageing population with countless health problems and it is underfunded due to cuts made throughout the past 20 years.
We were told miracles would be performed with money the leave campaign team knew they would never have to spare.
All of these things had an impact on why Brexit was voted for. However, most of these things have since been proven to be inaccurate. And we now have a clear plan for what Brexit will actually look like.
I’m sure if you promised me a well paid secure job in an ideal country with a brilliantly funded public healthcare system, I could probably be persuaded to vote leave. But those aren’t the realistic outcomes of Brexit anymore and they probably never were.
Logically, it just makes sense to ask again. Either the public votes to leave, having knowledge of the deal we will leave with and the probable outcomes of that deal, or the public vote to remain, having learnt from the past two years that it is not the promised golden land with no immigration and a fully funded NHS.
The worst thing about Brexit for me is not the initial repercussions. It is not the potential threat that my country will suffer immensely. It is not the loss of border freedom, the loss of an independent adjudicator keeping the government in check, it is not the loss of favourite foods.
It is not that when we inevitably go begging to be let back in, we will lose our veto vote, we will not be able to get a deal anywhere near as profitable as the current one and that we will accept that, having fully lost our place as a world super power.
It is the fact that one day, my child will ask me what it was like, why we let it happen, and how a whole generation crying out for a second chance to get it right was ignored? And I will have to look them in the eyes and tell them I really don’t know.