‘Just’ may sound like an innocuous word but it can be dangerous. Try using it in an argument with your spouse and see the effect. Like never and always, just can be a word that pours petrol on the bonfire – as in ‘just leave my things alone so I know where they are’, which is one I remember from a while back.
There can be no dispute whichever side you back that Brexit is now a complete car crash. We are united in frustration and bewilderment and from that place that word just can make an appearance.
‘The government just need to sort it out’
‘We just need to leave’
‘Parliament just needs to agree a new plan’
I get people’s weariness and at times anger but I want to make a plea for us to recognise where we are and the mind-set that might move us forward
1 – We need to accept its complicated
We are trying to leave a 40 year old set of arrangements that governs much of our system of government. Unpicking that was never going to be easy.
The reason the Brexit campaign was a success is its greatest weakness – it made it sound straightforward. Taking back control is a pretty simple concept. Hence the confused people interviewed the day after the vote who thought we’d already left. The outworking of the vote was never going to be simple enough to put on the side of a big red shiny bus.
Making out this is simple is likely to lead to an ill thought solution. Do we really want to just leave with no accurate sense of what that will look like? Let’s be clear – if people suffer as a result it will be the poorest that suffer, from a nosediving economy, from a lack of scarce resources – the people with no ability to have something in reserve will take up the slack.
Recognising this is complicated means we need to look calmly and collaboratively at what future relations will look like. This will involve compromise not ramming through one position or another.
2 – We need to respect each other
The debate has become toxic and polarised. We are used to protestors screaming at each other. My Facebook feed is full of derision and abuse for the other side of the debate.
None of this is helping.
My son was appalled to watch a Brexit debate the other day and hear a female MP being drowned out by her mostly male opponents. Those opponents will know the abuse she has suffered, it’s well documented. Yet they continue.
Parliament needs to set an example.
No more abuse.
Whatever the outcome we will have to live together and respect differences. That should start now
3 – We need to get over our national sense of superiority
I love this country. I’m grateful to have lived my whole life here. I love the nation’s beauty, its sense of humour and unrivalled ability to invent great sports that everyone else then beats us at.
I love my country but then doesn’t everyone? It’s like Grimsby fans singing that they are ‘by far the greatest team the world has ever seen’.
Let’s have a little perspective. Let’s exercise our national ability to not take ourselves too seriously.
Thinking we are better than other nations is dangerous. It leads us to dismiss and to seek to ignore or dominate.
We have no divine right to leave on our chosen terms. We need to discuss this with our European partners as respectful equals.
It’s not a war, let’s not talk about it like it is. For politicians to do so is irresponsible. It fuels the lunatic fringe, hate speech and racist attacks.
Politicians who use the language of national superiority are not to be trusted. They are either ignorant or willing to manipulate others ignorance. Or both.
I’m a Christian – there are of course Christians on both sides. A Christian view is God first not nation first. A Christian view is one of love. A Christian view is that our nation is supposed to be a blessing to other nations.
Most of all a Christian view is rooted in prayer to our father in heaven.
So we need to drop lazy, simplistic arguments. We need to end the abuse. We need to respect all of the different actors in this miserable no stars out of five play.
But mostly we need to pray for God’s will to be done.