Never has a single political event divided so many people. Pushing families, making friendships toxic and creating a worrying generational rift. North vs South, Young vs Old, Rich vs Poor.The referendum has turned a usually polite reserved country into an atmosphere of tension. The amount of hatred, even after the referendum, from both sides on social media has been staggering. Both remain and leave claiming they have been treated harshly, only to ironically post something provocative about the other side a couple of days later.
But this vote wasn’t about Europe, it was about so much more. It was about what we British want to be. For the remain camp it was about an open country built on tolerance and openness. Accepting globalisation with open arms and wanting to be a part of a world which grows and thrives. For the leave camp it was about putting Britain first, making sure that we remember that those at home are important.
This wasn’t about the EU, it was truly a battle of ideologies that has put this country at war with itself.
It is this importance that lead to the March for Europe in London yesterday. A march to say that we want to be part of the EU and part of the world. However, it was a march that alienated many people who voted leave. They claim they won democratically, many others claim that it wasn’t democratic as it was through a barrel of lies. Sadly the march made the wrong statement.
While marches like this can be important, it is vital that the remain campaign focus on what they can get. A second referendum shouldn’t and most likely won’t happen. I say that as a second referendum would be somewhat unjust and only alienate leave voters further, resulting in escalating tensions. So what should we do?
Once we accept that we will leave Europe (this needs to be done immediately), we need to work together to decide our relationship. For the sake of security and economic prosperity, those who have voted remain need to lobby for a positive agreement and that agreement is to join the European Economic Area (EEA). I have previously written about this (See: The EU & I: After Brexit) and believe that this is the best case scenario for us now. We regain more sovereignty, remain part of the single market and are free to travel around Europe and trade with no tariffs. We are also free to make trade deals with the rest of the world. This is the best way to secure jobs that are in doubt and that people may lose. It is the best way to guarantee security for jobs and to avoid a recession.
So please, those who are campaigning and marching, it’s time to redirect your focus. We will be leaving the European Union, but now is the time to campaign for the best deal for Britain, a deal to join the European Economic Area.