Articles

Brexit Blues?

March 10th, 2019

By ChiralJon – https://www.flickr.com/photos/69057297@N04/33661354141/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61553209

As we are about to embark on yet another week of Brexit turmoil, don’t you sometimes wish that you would never see, hear or read the word “Brexit” ever again? This wretched debate has paralysed the government and diverted attention and funds away from issues that matter.

 

But are we right even to call it a “debate”. The word “debate” suggests an impartial assessment and analysis of evidence. But what we get instead are statements of radically opposing views and, very frequently, abuse of anyone holding a contrary opinion. The abuse can be extreme, often involving threats of violence, threats of rape or death threats.

 

Why has the Brexit “debate” become so violently polarized? Social media may be partly to blame. A platform such as Twitter only allows for a brief expression of opinion rather than the exposition of a coherent argument. In that environment, debate can’t happen. Statements of opposing opinions rapidly degenerate into abuse.

 

But there is another reason for the intractable nature of the Brexit issue and it is a very surprising one. The real problem is that both sides of the Brexit argument – Leave and Remain – are right. And each side knows it is right.

 

Neither side is 100% right. But both sides put forward beliefs which are either self-evidently true or at least highly plausible.

 

For example: Remainers say that to remain in the EU guarantees ongoing, frictionless trade with our biggest trading partner and poses no threat to peace in Northern Ireland and risks no breakup of the United Kingdom. That’s true, isn’t it?

 

And Leavers say that in certain areas immigration has caused a reduction of job opportunities and a suppression of wage growth. That also seems highly plausible.

 

There are many other truths on both sides – I’m not going to list them all. But each side clings passionately to its own truths and the result is polarization and deadlock.

 

Like everyone else, I’ve no idea what will actually happen. But one thing I’m certain about is that, whatever the outcome, most people will be bitterly disappointed, including those who, on the face of it, get their way. This will add to the tension which this thoroughly toxic issue has already caused.

 

As a family man, a friend and a colleague, I have seen for myself the strain which Brexit has put upon relationships and friendships. So, whatever happens on the week commencing March 11, 2019, I would urge us all to try our hardest to understand and tolerate views which are different from our own. This can be very hard to do in the face of extremist rhetoric. But the majority of British people are not extremists. Most of us simply want the best for our country and ourselves.

 

If all this stress starts to get you down, why not book an appointment with me and offload a bit of it?

 

 

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