Friday, 24 June 2016

Brexit it is

I have a confession to make. This entire referendum campaign I have been unbelievably hypocritical. The entirety of my argument was predicated on the belief that the British electorate could be trusted to run our own affairs, and choose the right government, implementing the right policies, to secure a more prosperous, global future for us all. But the entire time I was making this argument, I still expected Remain to win. I trusted the electorate to make the right decisions after Brexit, but I didn't trust them to vote for Brexit itself. I've never been so pleased to have been proven wrong, and I promise never to doubt us again.

The excitement once the results started rolling in meant that I got less than two hours sleep last night and there was a genuine feeling of elation as I walked into work this morning. I genuinely felt giddy, though how much of that was the result and how much was the fatigue I couldn't say. It is a momentous occasion, a decision that will change the course of our country. In many ways it's terrifying, yet also incredibly exciting.

That said, that pleasure in victory has been tempered somewhat by the hysteria that has been seen from Remainers across the media, both mainstream and social. From some of the reactions you would think we hadn't voted to leave a political institution, but instead declared war on China. And Russia. And pledged to fight those wars using nothing but sticks for guns and kitchen utensils for armour. It needs to be reiterated now that absolutely nothing is going to change in the short term. The fall in sterling once the result was clear was entirely expected, as was it's subsequent climb. As soon as the deal with the EU is concluded, assuming it maintains full single market access for the UK as it should, the pound will skyrocket. Also, the fall in the FTSE, far from a crash, was a correction after the markets had gambled on the wrong result, and is now trading at similar levels to how it was in January. Judging the impact of Brexit on the economy after only a few hours is more than a little premature. Some of the blame for the fall can of course be laid at the feet of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, and by extension the remain campaign too. If Cameron and Osborne had prioritised their offices of state over their views on the EU, they would have reassured voters, and the markets, that they would do everything in their power to minimise any economic impact of a leave vote, and set out beforehand how they would go about doing that. Instead they chose their roles as campaigners over their roles as custodians of our economy, portraying Brexit as a leap into the dark, and thus some of the panic that has ensued this morning is entirely of their own making.

It is for this reason that I am glad Cameron has decided to step down as Prime Minister. I am also glad that he is not doing so right away. We need stability now, to reassure the markets, and it was good to see him attempt to do so in his resignation speech. What happens to Osborne now is up in the air, but he, even more so than Cameron, has to go. His manipulation of the Treasury to his political aims and the threatening of the electorate with his ludicrous 'blackmail budget', has disgraced his office. Add this to his perpetual U-turns, his utter failure to hit any of his austerity targets, and his constant elevation of politicking over fiscal prudency, and I cannot see how he can remain as chancellor any longer.

I also want to take a moment to address the video of Nigel Farage currently doing the rounds. I'm astounded people are so worked up about it, claiming it is a betrayal of everyone who voted leave. For those that haven't seen it, this is what's causing the hubbub:

Interviewer: "The £350 million a week which we send to the EU, which we will no longer send to the EU, can you guarantee that's going to go to the NHS?"

Farage: "No I can't."

Of course he can't! He's not the Prime Minister, he's not the chancellor, the health secretary or a member of the cabinet. Despite repeated attempts, he's not even an MP. More than this though, this referendum wasn't electing Vote Leave (thank Christ), it was whether we remain a member of the EU. Vote Leave are not forming a government, and their suggestions about what to do with the money we will save on our membership fee - which despite the faux outrage now, everyone knows isn't £350 million a week - are just that, suggestions. The point is that it will be up to our democratically elected government to allocate those funds, and they may well choose to allocate them to the NHS. It will be down to us to decide in a general election, and that's what the entire democratic argument of the referendum has been about.

So yes, there are uncertain times ahead. But this vote to leave the EU has shown that we as a country are not afraid to take these challenges head on, and we are confident in our abilities to overcome then. This is just the first step, and I for one, can't wait for what's next.

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