So, the votes have been counted and the people have spoken – and now, in the words of the Leave campaign, it is time to “take back control” of our country. But perhaps the real question should be whether we, as the people, like the look of the country that we have taken back?
Only time will tell as to whether last Thursday’s referendum result is brave or foolhardy, but in the meantime, we will all have to come to terms with an outcome that has divided this great nation in more ways than one. The counted votes came with the unintended consequences of setting young against old, rural dwellers against urban dwellers, the affluent against the less affluent, and sadly in isolated cases – the natives against both immigrants and the whole concept of immigration.
Maybe we just have to just get real and face the fact that all the referendum has really achieved is to expose our national grievances and deep rooted prejudices – a sort of collective “airing of our dirty washing” if you will? Speaking personally, I think that it would not now be an understatement to say that the “cat is truly out of the bag” in this regard, and it will now fall to the political classes to try to fix what is, for the moment at least, our fractured if not already broken national identity.
Speaking of which, who would have foreseen the almost immediate implosion of our two main political parties post referendum and David Cameron’s emotional resignation speech? With the liberal Party vanquished at the last General Election, and the Labour Party at war with itself, our political future rests with an as yet unknown Tory Prime Minister to steer our nation through choppy economic and political waters over the next few years.
With Scotland on the verge of a second Referendum, two years of EU exit negotiations to manage, and more cuts to implement due to probable falling tax revenues – who would want to be the future Prime Minister? Whoever gets the job, I think that it would be fair to say that they are not going to get an easy ride from Nicola Sturgeon, the EU or the great British electorate should recession loom and /or living standards fall.
So is there any hope? As a matter of fact I believe there is. As there seems to be a groundswell of informed opinion that last Thursday’s referendum is only the start of a major re-alignment in the general direction in which the EU has been heading. As always, it will be Mrs Merkel and the German government that will have the final say on this, but it is believed that there is no appetite amongst German politicians for the increased financial burden that will accompany our departure from the EU. Ultimately, they will look to find a way of accommodating the UK alongside the EU’s existing structures. In other words, pragmatism might well win the day, leaving both sides with a face saving way of maintaining the status quo.
You see in reality, both sides have much to lose from our absence in Europe, and despite the harsh rhetoric of the past few days, both sides in private have no wish to contemplate the “nuclear option” of complete separation – even if a 6% majority of the great British public have voted in favour of this. Let us hope that common sense will win the day, and a resolution can be found that does not damage UK PLC’s ability to trade its way out of its self- induced isolation; that way all of our children will have some chance of a future.
The author of this post is Peter Nicholls CEO of ideology Consulting. For further information go to www.ideologyconsulting.co.uk .