Brexit home truths
It is now 990 days since the Brexit referendum – though it seems much longer, probably because we have spent the past three years deluged with cant, misinformation and breath-taking obstinacy on every side.
It started well before the vote itself, of course, as Brexiteers and Remainers alike indulged in scaremongering that served primarily to reinforce prejudice and division on both sides. Since then, very little has changed. Most Leavers still want to go. Most Remainers still want to stay.
Frighteningly too, increasing numbers of people are so fed up with the constant wrangling; the exposure of a political class woefully ill-suited to lead, and the drip, drip, drip of bad news that they are losing interest in the whole thing.
“Let’s just get on with it,” is a common refrain, even as tempers rise and frustration mounts.
Yes, there is talk of a second referendum – which would be wonderful, if the right conclusion were reached – in my case, a definitive vote to stay and fight for a better European future as a full-fledged member of the club.
For better or worse
But there is no guarantee that a second referendum would deliver what Remainers are hoping for. Why? Because we are still so unclear about the long-term effects of leaving the EU.
The signs have been ominous to date. Carmakers leaving in droves, jobs being lost, business up in arms - but the Brexiteers remain loudly confident that the UK will ultimately be better off.
They do not necessarily spell out how but their self-belief works – at least for those who have supported them from the beginning.
So, with 18 days to go until we are scheduled to leave the EU, we can still only guess at the outcome and we can still only guess at where our country will be economically, socially and politically one year, five years or ten years down the line.
The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing but we have no way of using it as we debate the most important issue of our time. That’s the painful truth about Brexit.