Last week Boris Johnson’s new deal was plastered all over our screens and our newspapers. We couldn’t get away from people who were making sure we knew that they thought it was a hard Brexit, a soft Brexit, a something-in-the-middle Brexit. And indeed, why should we?
Brexit is one of the biggest political issues of many people’s lifetimes, including those of us who can remember the initial joining of what was then the EEC all those years ago. It made sense that my very straightforward Politics tutor, who tends to launch right into course discussion the moment we’re sat down, started the seminar by asking us our thoughts on the deal. We all looked around, wondering who would venture their opinion first, and break the ice. Who would be gobby and opinionated enough?
I write for the Views section of The Gryphon, so I very naturally felt the task fall to me. “To be really honest, I’m just tired,” I submitted casually.
My tutor looked at me nodding, “You mean you’re getting a bit bored of it?” I’m a political obsessive who’s taking this politics module solely for my own interest and, dare I say it, fun. No, I’m not bored.
“Not really,” I explained, “just emotionally drained by it all.” Several people in the room looked like they knew what I was talking about.
Do you know what I’m talking about? Every day since the referendum I feel as if there’s been a slow and steady attack on our collective willpower to have a passion for the subject, even on those of us that very much care about Britain’s place in Europe one way or the other. It’s been like the drip drip drip of water from a small crack onto the floor of a cave. It never looks like it’s going to become anything, but soon enough, a dent begins to emerge. I feel as if our country’s political soul is getting dented and I’m worried and saddened by the prospect of the dent becoming a hole.
For the longest time there was a general agreement that if Brexit was continually and wilfully stalled, watered down or downright stopped in its tracks, then all those who value democracy would make their voices heard. They would protest outside Westminster as long as it took for right to prevail over wrong. So the narrative went.
To go back to the slightly hackneyed dripping water metaphor, I believe that because the stalling and watering down has been such a slow, exhausting, fatiguing drip drip drip that if Brexit were stopped tomorrow, all I could predict is a greater surge in apathy. That and the complete discrediting of the political process in practical terms for a generation, in cultural terms perhaps longer.
Since the day of the referendum, we have been barraged by politicians – I can’t help but notice that it’s almost exclusively Remainers – delivering a soundbite masquerading as an idea. This idea is that we live an oh so terribly disunified country that needs to come together, a fear often followed up by explaining that only by following the politician’s specific plan can we avoid certain cultural decay. I fear that we’ll end up coming together over fatigue and apathy long before we do out of a sense of duty to get Brexit done. And so, I suggest a middle ground, that we come together to shake off the fatigue and get angry about what we’re letting the same old people get away with?
Image Credit: The Independent