Three Thursdays

29 Jun

Two weeks ago, I was sat in Amsterdam’s Schipol airport working on an article of some description on my way back from a conference on cyber security. Browsing Twitter, reports started coming in that MP Jo Cox had been killed in the street – gunned down and stabbed. The man accused of killing her has since appeared in court, declaring his name to be “death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.

I got up and walked, dazed and aimless. I couldn’t quite believe it had happened, not in my country. Politicians just don’t get murdered in cold blood at the side of the road. Not in the UK.

But it did. It did happen.

Then, just one week later, we as a nation decided to “take our country back” and leave the EU. Something else that, until recently, I would have considered unthinkable.

The people who voted to leave – the ones who actually meant it, anyway – thought that they were going to get something in return. They were openly promised investment in the NHS, the overturning of fisheries policies to favour UK fishermen, money brought back into the country that was being wasted elsewhere while we endured hardships. Implicit was also the offer of jobs, housing and stability – that when we put a stop to immigration by cutting ties with Europe, there would be a new prosperity for all.

But they were lied to. A cruel deception that was immediately retracted once the egos this was all really about had got their way – something that even appeared to shock them.

And now the reality sets in. The fisheries will stay the same. Cornish councils pleading for the same protections they had under the EU will almost certainly be disappointed. The NFU has already begun lobbying for protection and funding for farmers, but I feel pessimistic about their chances, too.

The only concrete thing that seems to have happened is an outpouring of hatred and racism. A new feeling that telling people to get out of the country because of the colour of their skin or because of their accent is acceptable. That you can fire bomb people’s shops.

The UK was never some utopia where no violence or racism ever happened, but somehow a new, bigger wave of this behaviour has come. And when people find out just how thoroughly hey have been lied to, I can only see it getting worse.As a friend of mine said to me in the spitting rain this afternoon, “I think this might be the new normal. Permanent autumn and violence in the streets”.

And so to this Thursday. Will the greatest ego of all the Briexiteers, Boris Johnson, who sold lies to the people and helped tear this country apart for his own personal gain, finally make an appearance? Because he is increasingly conspicuous by his absence – perhaps because winning wasn’t part of his great plan. Perhaps because now, as it is becoming apparent, there actually is no plan for the reality we all find ourselves in.

But I would urge him not to be shy.

Come forth, Mr Johnson and take your prize, this poison chalice that you have poured out for yourself. I hope you choke on it.

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