Monday, 27 June 2016

Brexit - "What was that all about?"

I was born in 1951, six years after the end of the Second World War.  I can remember as a young child seeing the charred remains of buildings in London that had not yet been torn down or reconstructed.  The significance of WWII has been lost on many; the blood, sweat and tears, the huge sacrifice to achieve victory forgotten.  Perhaps we would do well to remember Sir Winston Churchill’s famous wartime speech, when all seemed lost, and this truly great man stirred up a nation: 
“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World (America), with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
As I followed the Brexit news coverage the day of the vote, there was a comment by a British MP that went to the very crux of why the exit side had a majority; the MP had been in a greengrocer the day before, talking with a shopper who asked the simple question, “What was that all about?” (referring to the WWII war and England’s ultimate victory).  Through the war Britain had kept its freedom, its sovereignty and its democracy, but in since its joining the Common Market and subsequently the European Union, its freedom, sovereignty and democracy have slowly been eroding away.
To all the commentators who berate the British people for their seeming stupidity, giving up seemingly assured wealth and prosperity, have missed the point completely.  To be rich but not truly free has zero appeal.  According to Time Magazine, “Among those who came of age before the E.U. was created, a staggering 59% wanted the country to leave.”  Though now living in Canada, I count myself among them.

It is the older generation who realize that wealth is not everything.  I am absolutely positive that the vast majority of those who voted to leave the E.U. were voting with their hearts, with sound minds and a desire to live in a true democracy – not with their wallets and a desire to be spoon fed by the state, even if the ‘state’ is not their own.