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Remaking Britain after the EU referendum

PoliticsPosted by john sloboda Sun, June 26, 2016 09:05:58
The democratic process has delivered its result, and I have accepted that we now will (and should) leave the EU.

I voted remain, and live on the boundary of two of London's voting areas with the highest remain out-turns in the country (Islington and Hackney). I have been welcomed and am very happy here. However, I spent most of my life living and working in Staffordshire, which has voted decisively for leave. I have deep affection and respect for the people of Staffordshire.

I think the right thing for me to do is to accept the democratic result, and move on work to ensure that the values that matter to me inform the politics of a country that will still be a European democracy, albeit outside the EU. My family is a family of immigrants, who came to England (from Poland and Italy) and were welcomed into it long before the EU was even dreamed of. Integration of successive waves of immigration is in Britain's DNA, and I will do what I can to ensure that this remains the case.

I don't think it right or fair to demand a second referendum. And I don't believe that London can somehow be in the EU when the rest of England is not. Petitions on this topic are not for me. I am also afraid that much of the response I am seeing from my fellow disappointed remainers is counterproductive. Although I don't agree with everything she says, Suzanne Moore - as a self-avowed member of the "metropolitan elite" - has pointed up rather well some of the dangers of what is now being done and said by some of her neighbours in London, who seem to be idealising London as a model of modern Britain, forgetting the abject poverty and desolation which many of its people live in (see They will also not advance their cause by crude stereotyping of those who voted "leave", and who now form the majority. The reasons for voting "leave" are complex and multiple.

Is this vote the precursor of the breakup of the UK into its constituent parts? Although there is an assumption by many that Scotland will vote to leave the Union, the collapse of oil prices since the last referendum (September 2014) makes the economics much less viable, since Scotland would have to give up its 15 billion per annum subsidy from the UK Treasury (14% of its GDP). John McTernan has argued that for all her bullish remarks, Nicola Sturgeon will not call a referendum unless she is sure that "leave" would win, something that is by no means guaranteed.

What we are already seeing is that the vote has thrown both major political parties in England into turmoil. This is a symptom of the gradually emerging realisation that neither Conservative or Labour party as currently constituted can plausibly head up a process of national reconciliation after the Brexit vote.

It was inevitable that the EU referendum would be the beginning of the end of the Conservative and Labour parties as we have known them for my lifetime. They have both failed the British people, and - although it will cause much strife and turbulence - their time is over and I welcome their likely dissolution, and the re-emergence of new political alignments (and arrangements, including proportional representation and an English parliament) which better represent the diversity of political views in this country. Anthony Barnett's extraordinarily prescient "It's England's Brexit" (written on 4th June but seeming a lifetime ago) lays out the terrain with masterly precision. (

Neither party will succeed simply by "shuffling the pack" of their cabinets. They need to split and reform. It may take them both time to realise this, as successive candidates for the leadership discover that their members are now permanently split and ungovernable, because they are now made up of irreconcileable tribes who need to go their separate ways. The task in front of our political system is now to reform itself so that these tribes can face each other in a new democratic arrangement where ALL the voices of our people can exert influence in proportion to their numbers, and where the majority of people can align with political representatives who truly represent their views and interests.

We are facing nothing less than the task of remaking Britain.

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