Disaster of the EU Refeferendum

I found myself deeply saddened on hearing the outcome of the EU Referendum campaign on Friday morning, in fact, my stomach felt somewhat sick for quite some minutes.  I’ll grant that the current European Union is not perfect but Britain should have voted to stay, to be at the top table and to fight for reform from within it!

This potential disaster stems from out of our broken political system where a lack of proportional representation gives little chance of new parties, whether the Greens or Ukip or whoever, from breaking into the system and therefore better representing the electorate, leading to an increasingly divided society and country.

“[The referendum’s] sole purpose was to settle divisions within the Tory party and field the challenge from Ukip.”  Gary Younge, The Guardian Saturday, June 25 2016.

Serious domestic repercussions which the Leave campaign and those 52% who voted for it have failed to take into account are the scenarios of Scotland breaking away from the Union and, then there is the reawakened Irish question.

“Recklessly, casually, with barely a thought, English nationalists have planted a bomb under the settlement that brought peace to Northern Ireland and close cordiality to relations between Britain and Ireland.  …England has done a very bad day’s work for Ireland.  It is dragging Irish history along in its triumphal wake, like tin cans tied to a wedding car.”  Finton O’Toole, The Guardian Saturday, June 25 2016.

Many of the UK’s day to day standards and qualities of life are due to tough regulations imposed in place of previously lax and out-dated UK regulations – drinking water, river quality, habitat safeguards, sea and fishing regulations (and oh yes, our fishing fleet was fast disappearing before EU regs).  For example, there’s the labour directives, ease of inter-state trade, air quality and very importantly, Europe spoke with one voice at the climate change negotiations in Paris last December.

‘Very sad day for EU and for UK.  UK friends need help not isolation . Last wake-up call for all to stop the growing populism and strengthen EU.’  Janez Potočnik, Co-Chair of UN International Resource Panel, Former European Commissioner for Environment.

So what of the future?  I of course hope that after the initial shocks, the economy settles down and we re-establish our place in the world order of economics, trade, fighting climate change and safeguarding environmental standards.  But with years more of Conservative government probably led by Brexiteers, a rudder-less Labour party (with Jeremy Corbyn described as ‘spineless’) and the Liberal Democrats still reeling from last year’s General Election mauling, the prognosis doesn’t look too good.  In fact, I fear for many of those EU laws referred to above which at the moment, we take for grant.

“How perverse that, thanks to a plebiscite about ending unelected power in Brussels, we shall [might well] have an unelected ruler in Westminster.”  Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian Saturday, June 25 2016.

It is reported that during the Brexit campaign Farming Minister and leading Leave campaigner George Eustice described wildlife protection laws as “spirit-crushing”, stating his desire to get rid of laws protecting our finest habitats and birds altogether.

‘Sadly, [the] environment played little role in referendum debate.  [This should] Means no mandate for govt to roll back environmental standards from EU.’  Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK Chief Scientist.

My generation – the so-called ‘Baby-Boomers’ (I’m well on the upper side of sixty!) have had a pretty charmed innings and largely been given everything: free education, a reasonable amount of disposable income, golden pensions, social mobility but many of them have voted to strip away much of the younger generations future.

‘’The Old have voted for a future the Young didn’t want, but who’ll live with the outcome for far longer.’  Akil N Awan, Academic at Royal Holloway University of London, work on terrorism, police violence, new media, religion and radicalisation.

Another thought from analysis on the voting was that education, or lack of, which had a strong bearing on the outcome with many of those who left school without reasonable qualifications voting Leave.  I also personally think that many of the more comfortably better-off in the English shires took a somewhat jaundiced ‘Little Englander’ attitude, ‘we’re all right Jack’ mentality and so voted Leave.

‘Saddest fact is that the people who voted ‘stuff you’ because their lives were tough will now get stuffed by the people who led them on.’  Jenni Russell, Columnist, The Times and Sunday Times.

‘It is in the UK’s economic and environmental interest to engage positively in international negotiations on climate change and other environmental issues and support the growth of its low carbon economy through national policy.’  Nick Molho, Executive director with the  Aldersgate Group and previously head of climate policy with WWF – UK.

The repercussions for Britain’s wildlife and funding for agri-environmental work carried out by farmers, local authorities and conservation charities could be dire.  For a good analysis on this aspect of the debate, visit Miles King’s blog    https://anewnatureblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/some-initial-thoughts-on-a-post-cap-farm-subsidy-system/

As far as Britain’s place in the world is concerned, this debacle will also undermine the UK’s global clout in institutions such as the UN security council, the G7 and NATO, assuming Little Britain still continues to have a seat in these august pillars of world politics.



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