For the first time since 1975, Britons have had the opportunity to determine their own future in Europe. It’s a slightly frightening but wonderful feeling to have possibly triggered a “European Spring”, though not via civil unrest but the ballot-box.
In the 1975 referendum on joining what was called the “Common Market”, Harold Wilson stayed above the debate and so was able to lead the government afterwards. However, David Cameron came down strongly on one side, lost and so disqualified himself from leading afterwards.
The Brexit decision may now trigger another Scottish referendum on leaving the UK; even a push for N. Ireland to re-join Eire in a united Ireland (thus the EU delivering what the IRA couldn’t). As a mission leader working across UK boarders, there are obvious implications here.
How did we get here from there?
The past four British prime ministers all saw the EU as a sign of modernity, tending to ‘slide around the issue’, since the 1990’s.
A head of steam had built up over decades until the public were prepared to ignore the ‘experts’ to assert that – in the eyes of democracy – everyone has an equal vote. The close-run vote of 17, 410,742 was the biggest vote for anything in British history.
While a shock to both sides, I believe the result was a symptom of Britain’s deep cultural instinct to be free. This “bull-dog” spirit was manifest during the blitz and has always underpinned our particular brand of parliamentary democracy. There is disquiet in at least half the country that self-determination has been slowly haemorrhaging away from us for over 60 years.
The public were not cowed by the bankers nor bishops; prime ministers nor presidents; scientists nor economists; the BBC nor the CBI; David Beckham nor Richard Branson (whose Pendolino trains now carry a Christ-like image saying: “In Richard we trust”).
The European project started in the post war years, when it was right to seek harmonious relations and freer markets; however, we were wrong to ignore (for so long) the creeping “super-state” being designed by unelected people behind closed doors.
The EU elite occasionally lets slip their default position that the public should not be consulted. As a result the EU – cornerstone of successive British foreign policy for 60 years – now looks in trouble. I struggle to feel sorry for a political elite that has, for decades, been reluctant to trust the public, preferring to marginalise any challenge to the pro-European status quo. I have been personally harangued at Westminster by parliamentarians, of both chambers, who seemed more focussed on the idea of a “seat at the top table” in Brussels.
We are now witnessing a political earthquake, which is realigning the political landscape. What used to be called “right” and “left” wing, looks set to be replaced by “pro-globalised” (a combination of Tory pro-business elites and former Blairite Labour values) and the “anti-globalised” (a combination of pro-Farage-iste rural alliance with traditional working-class Labour values).
The Bible often uses the turbulent sea as a metaphor for the affairs of the nations. It’s exhilarating to be alive in a day when: ‘the things that can be shaken are being shaken, so the things which cannot be shaken may remain’. To trust God is still better than any known way.
It’s time to pray!
Daily Telegraph, 24 June 2016, ‘The most momentous thing I’ve seen in 40 years.’ By Charles Moore