Brexit: The UK's insult to democracy
The government of the United Kingdom is hell-bent on leading its lemmings off the cliff, taking a leap into the unknown, ingorant of the disaster Brexit will be
The British have brought us many quirky delights and many wonderful moments of entertainment. Good examples of these are the wonderful English breakfast, which is a bowl of cereals and milk, fried bacon and eggs and sausages, baked beans and mushrooms, toast, orange juice and coffee, a blast of calories which sends you way over your needs before you hit the bathroom for a shower and a shave.
Another is the game of cricket, which lasts five days at "test" level (international game), or fish and chips (a slice of fresh codfish fried in batter and served with fries, then smothered in salt and vinegar and eaten with a wooden fork from a crunched-up newspaper on a damp bench in a rainy park with a windchill factor of minus six). They even gave us the Crapper, the first flush toilet invented by an engineer called Thomas... Crapper. Dig a little deeper, and you will find more refined examples of cuisine, with its hundreds of types of bread, sausages, cheeses, cakes and its delicate mix of fine herbs to season succulent meat dishes and just-cooked vegetables blanketed in beautiful, silky gravy. It is also far ahead of many countries for Vegan and Veggie fare.
So it is a mix of brashness, brutishness and bullishness characterized by John Bull and the British Bulldog, and a semi-hidden more erudite, herby, cultured sophistication which is there in the background and which yesteryear was epitomized by the Gentleman.
Britain claims to have given the world cricket (in fact it was born on the streets of what is now India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh), it claims to have given the world soccer (in fact the Ancient Chinese and Japanese courts played a game of keepy-uppies and the Romans played what could be called soccer - pediludium - with an inflated pig's bladder). They also claim to have brought us Democracy.
Where holding a Referendum is anti-democratic
Looking at the way they are handling Brexit, this is utterly hilarious. We are speaking of the country whose Government states that holding a second referendum on Brexit (Britain exiting the European Union), asking the people for their opinion this time based on modern-day demographics (many younger people can now vote and would vote to Remain) and based on the truth rather than total bull.
Last time around, in 2016, the decision to call a Referendum on EU membership (Leave or Remain) was based on a rash decision to promise a referendum if Cameron got an absolute majority (to his own surprise, he did) and based on a campaign of euphoria and scaremongering by the Leave campaigners (since the subject of a criminal investigation) which was in fact a tissue of lies from beginning to end. This culminated in all the ra-ra-ra gung-ho Brits turning out en masse, some of them wearing their vests, exhibiting their collection of tattoos, others muttering "Damned frogs, what? They took Calais from us, the coves, what!" and voting. For what?
The first Referendum is a travesty of democracy
The day after the Brexit vote, Google was cluttered with questions about what Brexit was and what it meant. I conducted a questionnaire, and here are some classic replies which more or less sum up the mood: "Who are we voting for?"; "What are we voting for, our Euro-elect Member of Parliament?"; "Ah yeah, it's to see whever (whether) we enter the Common Market or not"; "It's them (those) French"; "It's taking our own boarders (borders) back and making our own laws"; "It's the V-sign to Brussels". Asked why? "Because they give us orders and take our fish and bury our farms and we 'ave (have) to pay for it".
Understanding a single word anyone says in the UK these days is a challenge in a country in which street language always became the norm after a while. This happened with the Germanic dialects which replaced Latin and the languages of the Prettani (the "painted people" or "tattooed ones" which the Romans called them), it happened when in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the "correct" form of English was exported to the Americas and the street language of the time became the accepted form of British English. We can say that the American English of today is the British English of two to three centuries back.
But the American trading policy of today is not the American trading policy of three centuries back. While we can find a common thread in the comments, namely that the EU is a concoction which went too far and too fast, stitching together economies and cultures in a Continent where the language can change every fifty kilometers or so, we can also see that in the case of an island nation like the UK, the idea of "foreigners" pouring in from the "Continent", is understandably a tricky one, especially when it coincides with the refugee crisis in general and paying more than you receive, when viewed directly.
The unseen consequences
What is not viewed directly and what is therefore invisible, out of sight and out of mind to those who vote for generalized notions, like choosing a soccer team which you follow just because (the majority of voters), is the indirect benefits of belonging to a large and powerful trading block, having a say in what goes on, negotiating for change from the inside and having the right to do free trade for free, in a globalized market in which the sharks eat the minnows.
Watching the UK floundering around like a stranded whale on the beach, making the shocking decision to take a leap into the dark without having a clue as to what knock-on effects there will be (even the Government states nobody knows what will happen), makes the rest of us incredulous. Talk about Russian roulette...
The disastrous social consequences nobody speaks about
It is obvious what will happen. The UK will have to pay billions each and every year to enjoy the right to trade with the countries it today trades with for free, without having any right in the decision-making process; who does the reader think will pay for that? Westminster? Sure, on the back of exponentially increased taxation; it is obvious that other countries will do trade deals with the EU first and then Britain will get the crumbs, what is left; it is obvious that the UK in the EU has more clout than the UK standing proudly alone like the Captain saluting bravely as his ship goes down.
So now what do we see? A Prime Minister who presents a single deal to Parliament which apparently is going to vote it down; a Prime Minister claiming it is undemocratic to hold a Referendum when it is clear that Leave will lose and Remain will win, meaning that it is clear she represented Leave all along. It is OK for those like her who already have their nests feathered.
What is not said, among the economic blurb, is the fact that this insecurity, ignorance and irresponsibility, this half-assed decision based upon sheer barefaced lies, is going to have dire consequences for families. The politicians talk about economic consequences. Let us talk about social consequences. I am talking jobs, I am talking funding for schools, for hospitals, for public services, police on the beat, food on the table, homelessness. No future, locked out of Europe, the bloc the UK does most of its trade with. For when the black clouds gather and the storm breaks, do the people of the UK really think that Westminster wil look out for them and give them proper social protection? It will result in a flurry of rats scuttling off a sinking ship and Devil take the hindmost.
Why the people of the UK do not demonstrate in massive numbers for a second referendum is an enigma as great as the rules of cricket or as understanding the subleties of Monty Python.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru. He is an official translator, a coach, a consultant and a professor.
Photo 1: By Mlbailey2 - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15038138
Photo 2: Por Parliamentary Recruiting Committee - http://www.walesartsreview.org/visual-arts-posters-of-the-first-world-war/, Domínio público, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=248758
Photo 3: The author, in 2018