Alan's Report

Is our country as divided as the Brexit debate made it appear?

Britain remains deeply divided over Brexit. Indeed, the 2016 referendum has helped to polarise the situation. But it is also evident that there is much that is wrong with British society, which clearly doesn’t work for many people, and that these issues must be urgently addressed. 

We all want the best for ourselves and our families, and yet it is evident that there are several competing visions of the ‘good life’. In the Brexit referendum, most Remainers, like myself, talked mostly about economics, whereas the majority of Leavers focused on cultural concerns, mainly sovereignty and immigration.

My many conversations with voters both during and since the referendum indicate that these attitudes have not yet shifted significantly. All of the focus on the potential loss of jobs from a Hard Brexit has been dubbed as ‘Project Fear’ by many of those who voted Leave.

And yet there is daily evidence that car and food manufacturers, city banks and others are now making decisions to shift their jobs and investment elsewhere. Despite this, some still see this as a necessary price to pay for the UK gaining its future ‘freedom’ to make its own laws.

My conclusion is that the European Union is being used as a proxy for all the ills of our domestic economy and society, but it is absolutely clear that a ‘No Deal’ free-market Brexit is not the solution to resolve deep seated social inequalities.

The next government will need to address these through radical reforms, and extra funding, particularly for our crumbling schools. Social and health services are under significant threat, while local library hours are being cut, or in the worst cases being closed down.           

In the meantime, we need another say on the final deal through a People’s Vote, given that so much new information has become available on the impacts of Brexit over the past two-and-a half years.

Seb St John