Hope, not hate

It’s been 36 hours since three High Court judges ruled that Parliament must have a say in invoking Article 50. Just 36 hours. In that time emotions have run high across the land. Some of those who voted Remain feel as though they have some good news to celebrate – possibly the first for months – while some of those who voted Leave feel angry that the vote they won is at risk of being ignored.

I’m on the Remain side, and I have felt like part of me has been stripped away since the UK voted to leave the EU. I run a company, and just when we were really beginning to be successful, external factors have conspired to make life harder than it needs to be – again. I see opportunities for me and my family being restricted – and that’s painful.

But I also see the anger and fear from the Leave side. From the press headlines this morning, to the mood of a handful of UKIP party members in a Make Votes Matter meeting last night, the accusation has been “don’t take my democracy away”.

A number of Remain voters have been angry with Leave voters as a result – some of them also feeling that they really don’t want the country to take what they see as a disastrous step. Today has not been a good day in the UK.

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Yes, the headlines are awful and irresponsible, but we aren’t going to get anywhere by spreading more hate and anger. My analysis is that a large part of the Leave vote was filled by people who have felt alienated from their country for some time – a feeling that a number of Remain voters can now also empathise with in a much more sudden way. Calling the other side sore losers or trying to explain how stupid they are – and I’ve seen that from both sides – is not helping at all.

Instead, we need to listen to each other. Remain voters are terrified that their lives are about to become incredibly uncomfortable and restricted. Talking about some theoretical sunlit uplands for the economy isn’t working. They just don’t believe it. Leave voters feel terrified that the country they thought they’d regained is about to be ripped from their grasp again. They will fight to keep hold of it.

Given that it’s Remain voters who feel they have most to lose, I guess my plea is to them … us. We must hear and understand the concerns being voiced, and we must come up with implementable policies to resolve them. Complaining that you feel as though you don’t recognise your country any more is going to cut no ice – because that’s exactly how the Leave voters have felt for years.

If I were an MP, I would vote to not invoke Article 50 – because I really don’t believe that leaving the EU will resolve any substantive problems but will, instead, create loads of them. But I would also work hard to ensure that we invest properly in our environment and public services, that we protect people from becoming victims of unfair business practices, that we undertake serious reform of both the EU and our own country so that it works for all.

The UK has had a very tough few years, and it has hit some much, much harder than others. We must ensure that, together, we pick up the pieces, create a fairer society, and reduce the reasons for hate.

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