Friday, 10 June 2016

BeLeavers have Britain at the exit door

Daily Record column 10/06/16

Continental breakfast or a Brexit brunch? Two weeks from now we wake up to a changed country, either having renewed our bonds to a common European future or casting ourselves off for a lonely journey on the world’s oceans.

Perhaps viewed from politics-exhausted Scotland or London, calm islands in the raging storm of the European debate, this referendum doesn’t look so crucial.

But the sucked-in whistle of Labour MPs coming back to Westminster from English constituencies tells a different story. Without getting too Han Solo about it, I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

We only have the polls to go on, flawed as they might be, which remain neck-and-neck in England and more settled in Scotland.

The average of Scottish polls shows 66 per cent for Remain and 34 per cent to Leave, though no one should be complacent.

It shouldn’t be a surprise the same division exists among SNP supporters, with 116,000 members the party is a reflection of the nation.

If a third of nationalists are Caledonian little Englanders Nicola Sturgeon has a job on her hands with her own party while also having the onus of being one of the few UK politicians who can motivate Labour supporters out of bed to vote.

I’ve written before about Sturgeon’s destiny in saving Britain from Brexit (this is filed ahead of her tv appearance).
She is capable of that selfless act even if, as John Major said yesterday, the unity of the UK as well as Europe is on the ballot paper.

Funny how in a short 24 hours this week David Cameron turned the tables by warning a second indy referendum was a real “worry”. He spoke as Scots showed they would be 56 per cent to 44 per cent against the break-up of Britain, if Britain stood alone.

But when Tories talk up independence, as they did in the Holyrood election, you know the “dream” just isn’t about to happen.

It is not the only thing the Remain side have over-cooked in the new Project Fear.

The economic predictions are dire but at least they only play on your wallet, not on the colour of your neighbour’s skin. The Leave side’s flogging of immigration fears is despicable.

More money for the NHS outside the EU, they say, fewer people entering the country, they claim. How would the NHS even function without immigrants soothing the balms and stitching the wounds?

Johnson and Farage are buffoons but for Micheal Gove to have shredded his reputation on opening this tap of toxic politics into the British well is deplorable. 

Yet the ragtag army of BeLeavers and truth-deniers could be on the verge of pulling it off. We are at the exit door. 
Why? Because, as Major said, there is more on the ballot paper than politics.

For the English this is getting uncomfortably close to a question of identity - the who are you and who do you choose to be questions Scots grappled with two years ago. 

I hope they will look at themselves in the mirror, and see they are a tolerant and open people who want to embrace the world and what it holds.

I hope they turn their back on a fortress mentality and the fantasy of nostalgic Britain where only the passports were black and everything else overwhelmingly white.

If not, then we’ll meet for brunch, and make mine a Bloody Mary. 

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