‘No matter how bad things are,’ said the film star Kirk Douglas, ‘they can always be worse.’ And yet we are told that a lot of people voted for Brexit in 2016 because they believed their lives were so terrible, they couldn’t possibly be worse, so leaving the EU was worth a try.
A nanosecond’s reflection, of course, would have revealed that Kirk Douglas was right and they were wrong. Ever heard of Syria, Somalia, Ukraine? Are you homeless, or are you unable to get the medicine you need to keep you alive because of a no-deal Brexit? Have you got a job, do you use public services? If you really think you have nothing to lose, you may soon get a very rude awakening, because (apart from a few of the hyper-rich) those who voted most enthusiastically for Brexit are the ones most likely to be damaged by it.
What I find most striking about the 2019 General Election campaign is that with the UK taking the biggest decision it has faced in nearly half a century, there is virtually no discussion by the ‘major’ parties – Labour and Conservative – about the damage Brexit will inflict: how much poorer will it make us, how many people’s rights will be destroyed, how badly will public services be damaged, how much weaker will it make the UK, indeed, will the UK survive it? And the media also largely ignore these questions. No wonder the whole thing seems like an exercise in self-deception.
If you don’t care about the above questions. Fine. Sleepwalk into Brexit. If you do, you’d better start thinking about how you stop it. This election perhaps presents the best chance so far, but also probably, the last.