Sunday, June 26, 2016


A surprising outcome of the UK referendum about whether to remain in or leave the EU, announced on Friday morning was the decision to leave which was passed by reasonable  majority  - c.48% to remain c. 52% to leave.

I was on my way to Stratton on the Fosse on the day the outcome was announced. The young Egyptian taxi driver from Bath Spa station was keen to  talk about the outcome. I was amazed to find he had voted for Brexit. He said that if he had married a Romanian girl he could live in Bath with his wife and family. However his wife is from Cairo where she lives with his small son. He cannot visit often and there is no work for him in Egypt whereas the taxi service around Bath provides a good income. He hoped that within a couple of years or so his wife will be able to join him albeit at the possible expense of some EU citizens.

The monks with whom I was staying as a guest, had all been in favour of remain so were slightly disappointed  at the outcome though not as regards the greater scheme of things. 

A Westminster prep school head in his 40s told me over lunch the next day while we waited together for the train back to London, that he was very disappointed by the outcome. I too was disappointed though in truth by the end of the meal and the wine, our disappointment was rather diminished.

Because of the meal and conversation, we missed the  fast train to Paddington by seconds but  were surprised to see a train bound for Clapham Junction which we duly took. The Brexit conversation continued to flow illustrated by learned articles in The Times and The Guardian newspapers which we had managed to buy. Then another passenger asked if she could join in our conversation.  This lady from Goa was about the same age as I and lived on a council estate near Lambeth Palace in London. She like many of the older generation had wished for a Brexit but voted  to remain as sought by her 30 year old son.

The Guardian took the view that the referendum should not have been called at all as the people were not sufficiently aware of the issues involved to be able aptly, to cast their votes. I imagined that such were the C19 arguments against affording the right to vote to women at all which arguments, I doubt The Guardian today would support. Such arguments are as wrong in C21 as they were in C19.

The younger generation seems more disappointed with the outcome than their parents' generation, feeling perhaps hard done by but such is always the case. 

I was born post-WWII yet rationing was still in force in the UK because of actions taken before my generation was born; the British class system was still very evident so decent employment was really a near certainty only for a few middle class men. Other poorer people, both men and women, were often left with less attractive employment. 

The current generation perhaps forgets too that in the 1960s, a much smaller % of young people went to university than occurs today. Shops and the comparatively few open supermarkets  had rather less choice of goods in the 1960s than they do now. Wages were pitifully low and mortgage and other borrowing rates absurdly high by todays standards.

A young person today might answer the mortgage point above with reference to house prices, which are now extremely high. However arguably the  EU basic free movement of people, many more of whom have come to the UK than have left the UK for the continent, has been part of the cause of that.  Now with Brexit, house buyers are waiting and perhaps hoping for purchase prices to fall.

So many of the  EU countries  reacted very angrily angrily to  the UK referendum outcome, suggesting for example that we should go very quickly and hinting darkly that there may be ways to force the UK out earlier, that  it makes one wonder if some resented the UK being in their club at all. 

If  those EU countries were really sorry at the UK referendum decision, surely after a decent interval a more generous package than that negotiated by David Cameron might be proposed before the decision to leave is formally put into effect? Instead many seem to wish the UK out  almost yesterday.

UK citizens' reactions seem little better so far, with many in the remain camp not accepting the majority decision and seeking a re run rather like the Irish had to, when at first they rejected the Maastricht Treaty. The second time under pressure from the EU the Irish capitulated.

All in all a surprising and speaking personally, a disappointing at least so far, outcome. 

Some good will surely  emerge in due course however, not least perhaps that the EU may reform eg to ensure that it has a president elected say every 5 years by the common people instead of some of the hideously expensive (so much so that auditors refuse to sign off the EU accounts) bureaucrats.

1 comment:

  1. Could not resist copying ad pasting the following comment from the BBC website as on the one hand it supports the point above about more university places in 2016 than in 1966 but on the other...

    For the slower witted, better educated is not the same as cleverer.

    1960 5% Went to University. =Now have vast amount of wisdom.
    2015 45% Went to University.= Gullible children.



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