I write this with a terrible sadness. I have a feeling that I’ve just witnessed the most tragic act of national self-mutilation my generation will see. Great Britain has voted to leave the European Union and I have a horrible feeling that this will be the last national act the United Kingdom will ever make. Already, there are calls for Scotland to have another referendum on leaving the Union. There are also calls for Northern Ireland to join with the Irish republic as both they and the Scots voted strongly to remain.
Now, we start to face the consequences of the vote. “Project Fear” now looks more and more like “Project reality check” as the effects people were warned about but chose to ignore come to pass. Already the pound has nose-dived and the stock market has lost 7%.
My fear is that this really is a case of turkeys voting for Christmas. The old and the fearful have selfishly set the future for the young. The poor have been gulled by the millionares and media magnates, not understanding they will bear the brunt of the consequences as our economy takes the hit. How long will it last for? No-one knows. We are all in uncharted territory here.
Of course, it’s not just us. The shockwaves will be felt outside the UK too. We’ve plunged the world into uncertainty. Have we triggered a new world recession? I sincerely hope not, but the signs are not looking good. I’d love to be proved wrong on that.
What now? None of us really know, although I have a nasty suspicion that this will lead to a much more fragmented and divisive society. Sooner or later, those who’ve voted out on the promise that it will end immigration and ‘free’ the UK from the economic shackles of the EU will realise they’ve been fooled. Already Farage has admitted that the £350m claim the Leave campaign trumpeted as the weekly ‘cost’ of the EU was actually untrue. Gove and Johnson have asked Cameron to stay on as PM – presumably because they don’t want to take responsibility for the shit-storm they’ve just unleashed, and because (as we knew) they don’t actually have a plan.
The old Chinese curse has come true. We’re living in ‘interesting’ times…