I’ve been thinking about what to write this time. I really don’t think I’ve spent any amount of time looking at Brexit and that might have been a good idea actually. Politics is a fairly emotive subject to say the least. Some people say that in polite company you should never talk about religion and politics. I’m not about to offer an opinion about the result of the referendum or the subsequent negotiations that have taken us to the agreed leave date on the 29th March 2019.
Brexit has been a national focus for our politicians, the media and the vast majority of our population. It feels to me like a national obsession that regardless of which way you decided to vote, everyone, every day since has been reading and talking about Brexit. Frankly I’ve had enough of it myself now but like most people, I just wanted to see where we end up and maybe we can move on with other important national issues that have taken a back burner. On a side note, I’ve always thought that the name, Brexit was loaded in the subconscious of the electorate to enable the leave campaign to have an advantage. It wasn’t called, BRIT-IN after all. Anyway, yesterday was deadline day after 3 years of negotiations, planning, votes and political arguments and we didn’t leave the European Union. During the referendum campaign I thought I knew what Brexit meant, however now I’m not so sure that the information given to the electorate was true and accurate. The fallout from the result has now created many difficulties which appear beyond resolution and to the satisfaction of the majority of our MP’s.
Without supporting either campaign or side of the argument, I decided to see what the area around the Houses of Parliament would be like on the big day. I noticed a big crowd gathering on TV and wondered if I’d encounter a movie like environment akin to ‘V for Vendetta’ with an angry mob, hell bent on the over throw of the government or just a peaceful demonstration demanding the vote be honored as promised for so long. However, it was neither of these things and what I witnessed disturbed me.
A found myself walking out of Westminster station and into a mob of bald headed middle aged men drinking beer from the nearby pub and singing the short version of ‘God Save the Queen’ on repeat while in the distance a big screen shows guest speakers demanding our very own Independence day with the likes of Tommy Robinson telling the crowd what they wanted to hear while they applauded and lapped up every word in between glugs of beer.
Some of the crowd were holding placards demanding ‘Leave means Leave’ and ‘Brexit Betrayal’ with their anger and views being understandable given the current situation. They were exercising their democratic right to protest and we should expect nothing less. I was shocked however that among this gathering were groups of people that spent far too much time talking in terms that basically resembled, ‘England for the English’ and with all the sentiments of an English Defense League gathering. It was so uncomfortable to hear these people talking in such abhorrent terms that I had to move away from them and I wanted nothing to do with their views which should never be connected to subject of Brexit.
I walked along to Abingdon Street gardens where the media always set up for live broadcasts. The camera crews and lights had very little space between them with the worlds media finding the perfect spot for a Westminster background. I spoke briefly to broadcaster Jon Snow about the day which we both agreed was a very strange experience.
I will note, that not all of the people I came into contact with were racist thugs and some had a great understanding of the subject and could articulate themselves well and why they felt the need to voice their anger and concerns. It’s my hope that more people want to be associated with those people and not the latter. My final experience as I moved back towards the station was when I met another broadcast journalist and political editor for ITV News, Robert Peston.
As we started to speak, a group of angry men started calling him a BBC left wing cunt. They kept shouting at him and not giving him the chance to respond. Then came the spitting at him while the police did nothing. Shocking and disgusting. According to reports, only 5 people were arrested that day. I think the police took a very wide view on what constituted a crime that day and allowed such disgusting behavior to occur.
We are a nation that are very divided on so many levels and we have millions of individual views on what Brexit should look like. I can confirm that no longer know what Brexit means.