Team Remain, Brexit and the urgent need for a Plan B
As someone who firmly believes in Europe and the UK’s membership of the European Union, I feel that whatever the outcome of the vote on June 23rd my fellow Remain campaigners have not played their hand well and that the price for this maybe exacting.
Firstly, I believe that Team Remain have been dismissive of the core arguments of the Brexit camp, caricaturing them as playing to a simplistic and toxic combination of nationalism, economic insecurity and a distrust of political elites. Yet to my mind the very essence of that simplicity, fanned as it has been by the cursory dismissals of the metropolitan elite has generated a bonfire of resentment that is at risk of becoming a firestorm of dissent.
Secondly, the Remain camp armed with what they profoundly believe to be an unparalleled arsenal of ‘facts’ has resorted to carpet bombing the opposition with little thought for potential collateral damage. This in turn appears to have only succeeded in creating a Dunkirk spirit in many of the English towns and much of its countryside, although not to date in the nation’s Capital nor in much of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Yet whilst the dogs of war analogy may help to explain why the Remain campaign is currently at risk of losing a battle many feel it should have already won, for me it is the analogy of the failing marriage rather than the military campaign that I believe may better help us Remain campaigners to regain much needed momentum.
I see the Brexit camp as representing the partner who believes that they have grown out of a marriage or perhaps that they should never have taken the plunge in the first place. To them the path forward is clear, make a break and move on. In their minds both parties can be persuaded round to an amicable settlement, where assets will be divided and visitation rights agreed. Why in time, when each partner has perhaps remarried, there could even be the possibility to meet occasionally for meals or even take a joint holiday.
The problem with this idea is that in this particular relationship the other partner does not want a divorce and doesn’t actually think there is that much wrong with the marriage in the first place. Not only that, but whilst they have been willing to do an initial bit of give and take, they would not respond well to their spouse simply packing their bags and leaving. Europe would not leave the family home quietly, first dragging its feet and arguing over ownership of every last photo and CD but then stretching the analogy a little further arguing over custody of the children and perhaps even the granting of parental visiting rights. I am not even sure they would agree to sell the family home.
So whilst in time the UK could use a clean divorce to go out a bit more and make new friends, perhaps even to re-marry, would it not be even more likely that matters could just fester, leaving both Europe and the UK the worse off. Whilst I would not be old fashioned enough to argue that marriage is always for life or that divorce can not provide a much needed means to start over, the potential benefits of a strong relationship built on mutual respect and understanding still hold. Neither partner should dominate, nor should the independent element of their respective lives be undervalued, but the value of being a partnership remains. Oh and one thing I am sure of is that if the UK does decide to walk out of this marriage then it wont be quick and it wont be pleasant.