Andrew Smith: 10 thoughts from a leftwing Londonder on the EU referendum


Campaigner Andrew Smith, who wrote previously for CommonSpace about being an undecided EU referendum voter, gives his verdict on the result

AFTER much consideration I ended up voting to Remain in the EU. It wasn't with any particular enthusiasm or joy, and it was a bittersweet affair watching working class people across the UK defying the markets, defying the bookies and defying the political class.

Here are 10 quick thoughts on what it all means.

1. Not everyone's racist

I believe Nigel Farage is a bigot and the Out campaign made me feel pretty uncomfortable throughout, but I don't believe 52 per cent of our population are thick racists or that you had to be one in order to vote Out.

2. And screaming racist at everyone won't help

Calling Out voters thick racists is not a way to engage them. Funny that.

3. The kingdom is no longer united

The gulf between London and the rest of the country (as in England) was on full display last night. The scale of the Welsh Out vote surprised me and I didn't expect Northern Ireland to be so close.

4. Remain campaign chiefs need to have a look at themselves

The In campaign had some great activists, but it was run by the sneering, finger-wagging types of London-based professionals who holiday on the continent, spent their youth taking advantage of EU-funded university schemes and spent too long lecturing down to those who couldn't afford to do either about how uncultured they are.

5. Scotland has every right to call an indyref2

There is definitely a democratic mandate for another Scottish referendum if the Scottish Government wants to call one. Either way, Yes Scotland should be reformed as soon as possible to start making the case for one on a non-party and openly pro-EU basis. 

Having said that, the Scottish In vote was not as decisive as many are making out. The fact that almost 40 per cent of Scots voted against the will of almost all MSPs (including all party leaders) and most of the media does suggest a democratic deficit on this particular issue between the people and parliament.

6. The dynamics of a second Scottish independence referendum will be quite different

Another Scots referendum could be a choice between UK and EU, and that would change the dynamic in a way that doesn't necessarily favour Yes (but could in time). The case for Yes looks obvious on paper, but if the fallout of leaving one political trading block is seen to be bad then will 'middle Scotland' be any more likely to favour leaving another one? 

The argument for Yes needs to be nuanced. The currency question will probably be even more important and the warnings of economic doom and gloom are more likely to be taken seriously if the anti-Brexit ones are proven accurate.

7. Replacing Jeremy Corbyn is not a simple answer for Labour

I can understand why some Labour people want rid of Corbyn and say he didn't lead from the front enough. But why would replacing him with a more pro-EU leader help win back Out voters? If he had been more enthusiastically pro-EU then who would have believed it? If anything, replacing him with a traditionally 'Europhile' leader would make the party even more out of touch with lots of its own supporters.

8. Looks like the EU wasn't bluffing

If the UK is kept out of single market and the EU rhetoric stays negative then it will have a negative impact on all European economies. The fact that EU leaders are not already talking about how they can work with the UK and keep free trade suggests they weren't bluffing when they said "if you're out then you're out."

9. Some London-based media were unprepared for Brexit for an important reason

If it wasn't already clear that the UK media is too London-centric then the EU results made it perfectly clear. By mid-day on election day they had practically declared victory for In based on London votes alone and misread the fact that stong turnouts across the country weren't necessarily a good thing for In.

10. It really is true that nobody has a clue what's going on

There is no precedent for an economy as large as the UK leaving a political/economic union the size of the EU. Nobody really knows what will happen next. If they say they do then they're lying.

Whatever happens next, politics just got very interesting.

Picture courtesy of (Mick Baker)rooster

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