Getting the Brexit blues

Cllr Nawaz
Cllr Nawaz

I was recently asked to give my opinion on the Brexit negotiations. This struck me as odd: after all, I’m the group leader of Labour in Peterborough, and thus my concerns are focused on the city’s specific needs, writes cllr Shaz Nawaz, leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council.

The fact that I was asked is indicative of how pervasive the issue has become. There won’t be a single hamlet in the entire United Kingdom that isn’t touched by the decisions that will be made in the coming weeks. There are children yet to be born that will live with its effects. It behoves us to consider its implications from top to bottom.

Having looked at the deal that Theresa May has struck with the European Union, I can see what she is attempting to achieve, namely, the impossible. She wants to balance the desires of her party with the needs of the country. The result looks like a hodgepodge of contradictory ideas, a blend that is more inclined to separate than cohere. She tries to give all factions something, and in the end, no one will get very much, or perhaps even enough.

The Christmas trees are lighting up all over the United Kingdom and Europe. There will come a point where negotiators, rightly, will want to pack up their bags and leave it all behind for a while to be with their families. With this in mind, there are roughly three months to sort out matters for the benefit of future generations. Hasty decisions are often cause for regret.

Furthermore, Brexit has sucked all the oxygen out of our political culture: while we’re discussing it, matters such as the failed rollout of Universal Credit, the present dilapidated state of our NHS, and concerns about our education system simply aren’t getting the attention they deserve.

I don’t believe that May’s present deal will end this, rather, it will ensure the issue continues to boil away, cooking any prospect of progress in any other sphere.

I am not going to offer a particular remedy to this problem; the majority of people who voted decided Leave was their preference.

This is impossible to ignore. On the other hand, the people who voted Leave won’t be pleased if it leaves them poorer.

The people who say they don’t care about such things, like Michael Caine, tend to be sufficiently well off to not be affected by a Brexit-induced recession. We should be very concerned that the British political system isn’t functioning normally, and not resorting to its typical genius for compromise. Rather, hardliners appear to be becoming fossilised in their positions and don’t seem to be willing to countenance anything the other side has to say. If this polarisation becomes permanent, it could be the most disastrous outcome of all.

Our democracy functions on the basis that elected officials, when push comes to shove, will be pragmatic. If we lose this, whatever control we may take back, we will have been deprived of so much more.