A personal view by Fay Goodman and Mark Wolski, Goodmedia UK
I have always been proud to be called British even though I was born in Germany and my mother is Welsh and my father from Hereford. Knowing we have a Royal Family highly respected around the world, and that our United Kingdom flag flies with honour, has meant a great deal to me.
But today, I see a fracturing United Kingdom that is being destroyed by the very politicians who should be listening to the voices of people. They should be protecting us. Yet greed, control and ego are just some of the words which come to mind when I look at some actions being taken by certain political factions within the current government. The honourable voices have been subjugated by those hell-bent on taking the UK into very dark waters. Their own issues and insular interests have now taken precedence. This is not how a democracy behaves.
In truth the arguments for and against Brexit were NOT correctly articulated. We had a pantomime of point-scoring leaving the public to ponder who is the better clown! Many people unfortunately did not truly understand what they were voting for. Now it is too late.
What is so important is the question: ‘Why did we start the EU in the first place?’
For me it is definitely to bring harmony throughout Europe – never again to experience the devastations of war and its aftermath. For over 70 years we have enjoyed this harmony in a continent that was formerly the most violent in the world. Whether it be nation fighting nation, nationalism, communism, world wars or exporting wars across the globe, Europe was a killing ground for literally thousands of years. The EU has transformed that. Economic and political interdependence are not values to be derided and scorned as hard core Brexiteers make out. Those values have ensured peace and a climate of concord on our continent, an exemplary achievement and a role model to be proud of in this unstable world. Granted we may not see eye to eye with everything in the EU and certainly there is a lot which could be changed for the better.
But, do we really want to be isolated? It is always better to be on the inside working towards change rather than to have no influence, a spectator pressing his nose to the glass looking in. A country once admired for its openness, fairness, tolerance and a shining light of freedom upon the world, the UK is now descending into insularity and becoming inward looking. Even more disturbing is how exiting the EU has now unleashed extreme right wing forces who now feel empowered and endowed to assault, even murder, as has been the case, foreign nationals on our soil.
How magnanimous of our government to tell Polish workers that they can stay! And how ignorant of them. It is only because of the sacrifice of many Polish soldiers in WWII, who also lost their lives and their country, that we are enjoying freedom today. They fought for our freedom and we betrayed those brave Poles by selling them into 60 years of communist repression. These veterans’ only recompense was the post war vision that we eventually were able to achieve peace and harmony in a post war Europe.
I hear the argument about how we are being dictated to by Brussels. But, the truth is very different. For example, the EU, regardless of all the employment rights, is actually protecting us against unscrupulous employers. Those who run a small business are particularly vulnerable and isolated as they will have no mechanisms or legislative champions to ensure a more level playing field against monopolistic corporate interests. The EU has protected its steel industry while the UK has allowed its own to now completely collapse. This is not a mechanism for taking back control. Indeed my business is in the creative industry and whilst I did not directly have any financial support I know of many businesses who were helped by the EU. This support was given at a time when the UK government withdrew funding for small enterprises and especially those in the creative sector.
I am disturbed by the wide held belief that the EU is ‘undemocratic’. Sure it is bureaucratic, to the point of excess in a number of areas. But then so are the corridors of power in Whitehall. But do we cite that as a warranted reason for leaving the UK? Germany has tabled a motion to ban fracking throughout the EU. Member states will vote on this proposal. A simple democratic process. This will not be an imposition from any above supranational power. Member states will either accept or reject.
Let’s now contrast with how the same subject is being currently conducted in the UK. Lancashire Council, a democratically elected body to serve the interests of its residents, have rejected two planning applications to commence fracking within the county on the grounds of environmental pollution, poisoning of rivers, public health concerns due to toxicity, dangerous methane emissions and more. The UK government has overruled their decision and given the green go-ahead to commence extraction of shale gas, riding roughshod over elected public democracy and interests. Even national parks are being earmarked for fracking activity. Big business interests triumph over public health. So will Brexiteers now leave the UK, having left the EU, given their thirst for a ‘democratic’ haven? I do hope they find one somewhere.
I personally believe that we are going down a dangerous road that will destroy us and the alarms bells are ringing loud and clear! The UK pound is plummeting in an almost freefall and this is just the beginning! Price rises, inflation, jobs relocating to Europe. International organisations are already moving out of the UK, changing their base and plans for jobs. Paris and Frankfurt are already rolling out the red carpet for London based financial institutions in anticipation of a capital flight to safer commercial environments. Nearly 1000 UK lawyers have now registered their practices in Ireland in what is becoming a legal stampede to get out of Britain. These events are only the beginnings of much worse to come.
As to calling ourselves a United Kingdom – this is fast becoming a joke. Scotland will almost certainly leave, make no mistake about that, followed by Northern Ireland and who knows, even Wales. I see Great Britain becoming Little Britain!
In truth, the government do not have a strategy to exit the EU. No-one ever did, so to even go for a vote on the issue in the first instance was ludicrous. So let us image we have now left the EU. Those who control our country will be able to make decisions unfettered by international human rights accords – and those of us who seek justice will have nowhere to go! Britain is the only western country with no written constitution defining and spelling out civil or human rights. Our rights and freedoms are scattered across several vague Acts of Parliament and in a thing called ‘common law’ (unwritten of course!) That is why it has taken the Hillsborough Disaster families literally decades to achieve justice in a state where privilege and power ensure that a definitive bill of rights for its citizens are never scribed in black and white.
That is why the Government is also hell bent on leaving the European Court of Human Rights. The reason is the UK has been hauled up in front of it more than any other western country for transgressions of human rights and miscarriages of justice. That would suit the Tories. I am apolitical at this moment and am disappointed we have no ‘great’ leader of any party to step forward and do what is best for the people. I hardly expect the proposed ‘British’ bill of rights to serve anyone on this island except those in privilege and power. Nothing new there!
Even now as a battle rages as to whether our Parliament have the legal right to invoke Article 50, our government are also invoking what they consider their right to bypass our democratic institutions through another ‘thing’ called ‘royal prerogative’. This mediaevalist piece of privilege grants them the right to ignore and by-pass parliament. It seems to me that the UK is defining its future through its feudalistic back door. And that is an insult to those who value true democracy.
Some Tory MPs are even seriously discussing amending the 1848 (yes, another Neanderthal legislation) Treason Felony Act in which, once we leave the EU it will become an act of national treason to advocate rejoining the Union. It appears we will be only a short step away from the same fate suffered by William Wallace. There have been 2,500 signatories backing this proposal.
The sight of Nigel Farage standing in front of hundreds of European MEPs in the European Parliament gloating, humiliating and insulting them is a measure of how low we are sinking in the eyes of the world. The sight of British MEPs engaged in a bloody fracas on the floors of the European Parliament, an institution of collective co-operation, is even more disturbing because this is a vision of what we, the British, are becoming. Synonymous with the violent nationalistic forces that tore Europe apart in the 1930s.
This is the real world of Brexit confronting us today.
Fay Goodman and Mark Wolski, www.goodmedia.co.uk