Brexit and Beyond

The UK Parliament is voting this Tuesday on whether to accept and move forward with the government’s Brexit deal that has been hammered out with the EU. It seems likely that the deal will not get enough votes to pass, and so we will be left in no-man’s land with no deal in place and with the March 29th deadline for leaving the EU fast approaching.

Predictions from the Bank of England and the IMF, amongst others, are that whatever way the UK leaves the union, it will negatively impact life in the UK, at least in the immediate term, to a potentially prolonged and painful level. In the context of the current world situation, I think the ramifications of leaving run much wider than that.

It is increasingly clear that the world is at a political and, more importantly, an environmental tipping point, if not already past the point of being able to scramble back up the ever-steepening slope and avoid drowning in the waters below.

At this crucial time for the world, surely we need to work toward unity, honesty and understanding more than ever and not keep blindly promoting, and falling for, division, isolationism and mistrust.

The Brexit decision, to throw the dice up in the air without knowing how they will land, seems like an incredibly risky strategy, not just in the short term for the UK, but in the wider, long-term. The possibility of this helping to initiate a further fracturing of a union of nations is very real, a union that more than ever should be working in tandem to help solve the most pressing issues of political and environmental security that we all ultimately need.

With the current dire predictions for the world’s climate and the devastating changes that could – or more likely will – come, we are all going to have to make sacrifices and changes to the way we live, see ourselves truly as a planet of people instead of a collection of individual states not reliant on each other. Because ultimately, we are, one set of people, intrinsically linked to and dependent upon each other and the broader throb of life around us on this earth.

I see the Brexit situation as a test of where we might be heading. I’m hoping, now that we know how difficult and potentially destructive leaving the EU could prove for the day-to-day lives of so many people, that we don’t just keep our heads down and plough on regardless. If the deal is voted down, we might then have a chance to say to the people of the UK, let’s take a look at what leaving actually means, now that we see all the warts and bruises in clear daylight and ask if this is still the route we really want to go down.

Seen in conjunction with our need to pull together to save our fragile environment, a vote to remain inside a union of nations could prove an important signal to the rest of the world that we should be rejecting the notion that ‘on our own’ is best, lift our heads above the constant stream of misinformation and self-interest and see things for what they really are and in terms of the broader, planet-sized issues that are staring ALL of us squarely in the face.

With the new realities that we face, we can’t afford to return to the ‘gold old days,’ so enticingly dangled in front of people’s faces, in the UK referendum and in the last US election. They have led us to a dreadful turning in the road that we might, might, still have the chance of straightening into a more sustainable future. But in order to make that happen, we must embrace a more tolerant and inclusive future together.

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