Keep resisting, says MITCH BENN. The facts are on our side and soon the majority of people will be too
You know what? No personal anecdotes, pithy analogies or weird where-the-hell-is-he-going-with-this pop culture-based pre-amble this week.
This week I’m cutting straight to the chase.
Brexit has to stop. Not be softened, or ameliorated, or grudgingly accepted in the entirely forlorn hope it can be ‘made the best of’ or ‘made to work’ in due course, it has to be stopped. NOW.
Of course it can always be started up again in due course, if that’s what people really want. That’s democracy. Real democracy.
As I’m sure most of you will know by now – I’m not privy to the editorial processes of this paper but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a fair part of this edition has already been dedicated to this topic. Earlier this week, Buzzfeed leaked a Brexit impact report commissioned, and duly suppressed, by the government. The conclusion of the report is that not only is there no possible post-Brexit scenario in which the quality of life of the British people won’t be drastically reduced, but that there is neither a single sector of the economy nor region of the country that will escape unscathed.
The official, government-ordered and government-buried verdict on Brexit is not just that it will be bad, but that it will be entirely bad, in every way, for everyone.
Now on the one hand, I guess we could say this is a case of better late than never, although I don’t know about you but I’m taking scant comfort from everything I’ve been saying for more than 18 months being shown to be correct. On the other hand, this is perhaps more a case of so late as to be pointless.
What’s so maddening about this report is not that it’s been commissioned, or even that it’s been buried, but that it’s been commissioned now.
The right time – the only time – to commission such a report was before the referendum was held. That way, the voters might have had some sort of empirical – if speculative – data to base their decision on, rather than just gut instinct or lofty aspirations.
If you had a friend who’d agreed to buy a house based only on a vague description of that house from the estate agent, who’d never seen the building, and who not only hadn’t yet had the property surveyed to see whether it was, say, rotten from roof joists to floorboards and about to fall over, but who didn’t even yet know the price of the house they’d signed up to buy, you would think they had gone crazy. Yet that, ludicrously, is precisely the situation in which we, as a nation, have put ourselves for a year and a half now.
Worse, if the leak of this report has, as is more than likely, no effect whatsoever on our progress towards the Brexit ravine, then we will be putting ourselves in the position of someone who agrees to buy an unpriced, unsurveyed house, gets the survey results and discovers that the house is indeed rotten from top to bottom; gets the price and discovers it’s higher than they can possibly afford, and who then announces their intention to go ahead and buy the property anyway. It’s beyond crazy.
Since I’ve become one of the more vocal critics of both the bewilderingly undimmed enthusiasm for Brexit on the right wing of British politics (among those whose cod-imperial fantasies have placed them beyond the reach of reason) and the supine, craven acceptance of it on the left (among those who’d rather eat a bucket of sand than acknowledge the possibility that Jeremy Corbyn might in fact be more interested in fulfilling the socio-political project to which he’s devoted his life than in actually securing the welfare and dignity of the ‘people’ he claims to champion), people have been asking me: ‘Yes, but what can we do? What can we actually do?’
My answer has been that while on a practical level, we ourselves can’t do anything, what we can do is pressure those who can.
In America this week, almost unnoticed among the tumult surrounding the development of what is, in effect, a coup by the Republican Party to co-opt the entire justice system in order to protect the President, another supposedly slam-dunk bit of legislation failed.
The bill to ban all abortion after 20 weeks was rejected, despite being yet another cornerstone policy of the party which controls all three branches of government. Protest works. Pressure works. Organisation works. Telling your elected representatives that come election time you won’t forget who stood up for you and who sold you out works.
There are still pockets of sanity in both major parties. We need to persuade them to pressure their own leaders, openly and without fear, to lobby to suspend and/or provisionally revoke Article 50 (as the EU is constantly at pains to assure us is entirely possible) until full public disclosure and discussion of this report can be carried out. Then, and only then, when we have some idea of what we’re buying and for how much, there can be another vote.
I know that many, perhaps a majority of Leavers will never abandon their dream of splendid isolation, however compelling the evidence that it’s an illusion. If they’ve made it this far and still believe, there will be no persuading them otherwise. But I refuse to believe that those people make up more than 50% of the electorate.
Keep resisting. The facts are on our side, reason is on our side and soon, if not already, the majority of the people will be on our side too.