First of all, for any UK voter, it's nigh-on impossible to come over as being wholly impartial on this still thorny issue. After all, we either voted leave or we voted to remain. Perhaps the closest we can get to a position of impartiality is if we'd abstained and didn't vote at all in the Brexit referendum? Frankly, I don't blame anyone who didn't vote because there was such a lot of flimflam and general noise but not much by way of any genuine sense floating about during the entire campaign. It was all highly charged and few Brexit related subjects were ever discussed dispassionately. It was all rather unpleasant.
So how did I vote? Well. I voted to Leave. Do I regret it? In some respects yes, but in other respects no. Do I think life has improved post Brexit? Not really, but let's face it and be entirely candid here, the world at large has subsequently had to deal with far bigger issues than Britain's exit from a trading bloc. Do I think things have got any worse post Brexit? Well, a combination of the pandemic and Putin's misdemeanours have definitely contributed to making life a lot more difficult - and not just in the UK. Brexit has been pushed onto the back burner. Yesterday's news.
Many would choose to identify Brexit as the root cause of all our current woes but it clearly isn't. Political eyes have definitely been taken off the ball in the aftermath of Brexit as Covid struck. Many are cringing as the UK Parliament continues to argue over who's been 'illegally' supping ale and scoffing birthday cake during the pandemic lockdown rather than seeing our political figures getting on with important stuff such as running the country. This, I find utterly bizarre. I'm convinced that we have the wrong batch of people in Parliament (of all colours) full stop! If this is the quality of discourse, I really do despair.
I spend a fair bit of my time in Portugal and I must confess that I find it difficult to find too many Brexit supporters there. After all, expats have chosen a life in an EU member state, so this allegiance to Brussels doesn't altogether surprise me. What does occasionally surprise me is the strength of feeling some Expats still have against Brexit, presumably because Brexit has bestowed upon them a number of additional obstacles (and costs) which didn't previously exist. I can understand how Brexit has upset a few apple carts along the way.
Good for Portugal
I suppose, in some ways, Brexit has been a good thing in Portugal. It's certainly pushed a number of expats into formally applying for residency rather than find themselves facing the dreaded 90 day rule. Before Brexit, I recall that many bona-fide 'residents' found it a bit unfair once they'd made their commitments to a settled life in Portugal whilst others just flitted back and forth (playing the system) and avoiding taking 'the plunge' and embracing the various commitments that go with moving to another country. So, I guess Brexit will be sorting this one out almost by the laws of unintended consequences?
I'm a firm believer in the old adage "If it ain't broke - don't fix it" and I admit that as far as I could see, the UK was firmly settled into a long term arrangement as part of the EEC/EU. Things were bumping along quite nicely and on the whole, the United Kingdom seemed relatively at peace with itself. There was no such thing as a 'Remainer' or a 'Leaver' and no way did any of us see fit to spit venom at each other over matters that were largely of no tangible concern to the vast majority of the populace.
But (and it's a big but) Cameron's Tories won the General Election of 2015 outright. It was a pretty convincing victory over Ed Milliband's Labour Party. During the campaign, David Cameron had made a promise to grant the country the opportunity to choose, once and for all, whether we wished to remain part of the EU or whether we'd prefer to leave. Milliband would not have granted that referendum, so a convincing Tory victory was seen as a mandate for a Brexit referendum to finally take place. Parliament thereafter voted accordingly and thus the referendum was granted.
Controversially, the victorious Tories spent 9 million pounds of taxpayers' money sending out a leaflet to every UK household in which it was fervently recommended that we voted to remain in a newly tweaked relationship with the EU (tweaks which failed to transpire having been rejected by the EU). It also spelled out, quite clearly, that whatever the majority eventually chose during the referendum vote (regardless of margins) we would see the final result being honoured. We were indeed either going to be in the EU or out of it. There was no in-between choice on offer. Remain vs Leave. That was it.
A simple choice
So. Quite regardless of how much political spin there would be, or how many porkies would be told by whichever side (standard in most elections) - it was to be a simple binary choice. A choice that we would all be free to make. Yes, the issues were complex but the choice of how the UK would be governed was not. We were either going to choose 'more Europe' or we'd choose to trust our own authorities to take aboard ALL of the responsibilities of governance - wholesale.
None of their duties would subsequently be delegated or outsourced if Brexit was chosen.
Many weren't altogether surprised to see so many Parliamentarians being so outwardly pro Brussels either. It seemed that a great deal of their workload had already long been shipped over there. Some also saw a growing band of retired (or less accomplished) politicians appointed into cushy senior EU positions, complete with generous salaries and even more generous pension settlements. No wonder an allegiance with Brussels was so heavily favoured by over 80% of Westminster's 'elites'. Small wonder there was such a palpable resistance to Brexit, not least from Speaker Bercow with his wife's utterly impartial and uncouth Lib Dem 'b*!!cks to Brexit' car sticker!
“If it ain't broke - don't fix it"
But when all is said and done, I still confess to hankering for those pre-Brexit, pre-pandemic, pre-Ukraine war times. Who wouldn't? I'm still in the "if it ain't broke - don't fix it" camp. But having said that, we WERE given a choice and a choice was made. It would be quite nice not to hear those on opposing sides still calling out their opposite numbers as lying, ignoramus loon pots who were coerced or indoctrinated to vote or even think in a way different to their own positions. I knew what I was voting for so why would I or anyone else assume for a second that everyone else weren't equally qualified to come to their own personal conclusions. Surely, we must be well and truly passed all that bitter and offensive stuff by now?