By Charlie Stone, author and journalist who has worked for the BBC, several national newspapers in the UK and international media.
Never mind ‘remain,’ the new buzzword is ‘rejoin.’ The ink isn’t even dry yet on the UK’s divorce deal from the EU, but some are already trying to find a way to walk Britain back down the aisle.
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in…”
Poor Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III, he tried his best to get his family out of the mafia but they just wouldn’t let him go.
Same, it seems, so far in this very young year, with Britain and the EU. The ink isn’t even dry on the ‘divorce’ deal and already some broken-hearted remainers are planning a way to walk Britain back down the aisle to Brussels. There’s even a new name for it, instead of ‘remain’ it’s ‘rejoin.’
Oh, for God’s sake. Please… can you just stop it?
It’s over. It’s done. Move on. The divorce has been finalised (sort of). And we’re still friends with the ex (sort of). Yeah, there were a few arguments about the mortgage payments and shared custody of the cod. But Britain now needs to find new girlfriends and boyfriends, fresh lovers.
Every shrink worth their salary will tell you, sometimes you simply have to let go. Stop wondering about what might have been and live with what actually is.
Leave or remain. It doesn’t matter. It’s done.
On June 23, 2016 – that’s 1,657 days ago (237 weeks, 54 months) – there was a referendum on leaving the EU, and 51.89 per cent voted “see ya.” After 47 years of membership and 70 years of first talking about joining, we walked away.
Now, you might well think that those 17,410,742 people who voted leave were total morons and duped by Dominic Cummings and Nigel Farage and their chums with silly messages about more cash for the NHS plastered on the sides of buses.
And maybe they were. It doesn’t matter, that’s democracy for you – you see? The majority rules.
Brits have an innate island mentality and a deep dislike and distrust of the natural-born bureaucrat, with the bureaucrat from abroad being the worst of all – especially from somewhere boring and irrelevant like Luxembourg or Belgium.
In or out, Britain would always be perfectly fine. Maybe Britain, like plenty of people, is simply more comfortable being single. Never mind the single market.
Oh, and take politicians like Emmanuel Macron and the claims the French president made in his New Year address, that Brexit was the product of ‘lies and false promises.’ Again, maybe he’s right.
But doesn’t Monsieur Macron just have the kind of face that every Brit just instinctively wants to slap? Who is this guy anyway, to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do? I didn’t vote for him, I’m not a citizen of France. Bugger off, Manu, you smug French git.
Aside from the impact of Covid-19, there could also be a bit more stability now. The ‘not knowing’ factor – not travelling in a chosen direction, sitting on a fence – is often what unsettles a market the most. The pound, for instance, was worth 1.35 euro on January 1, 2016, before the destabilising impact of the Brexit referendum. After reaching a nadir of 1.07 euro in the depths of the uncertainty, it’s now worth 1.11 euros, and seems to be edging back up. It’s possible for businesses and the money men and women to make plans, now that it’s ‘over.’
None of this matters a hoot to those who won’t let go, though. It’s a philosophical question for many, but for others a question of faith. They are part of the EU and will never let go. As the curtain fell, they couldn’t help but peer underneath and see what their ex was doing on the other side. They won’t be able to resist driving past her house and seeing if another car is parked on her driveway, Turkey perhaps (human rights abuses or not).
Take Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian columnist, for example. He wrote on New Year’s Day, the first day of Britain being out of the EU, about how Britain could rejoin. He goes on about an anti-EU fanatic in an egg-stained tie who he’d see at the back of Tory party conferences long before the Brexit referendum. About how this lone nerd won the day. Fair enough.
But 17.5 million people, Johnny mate (I wasn’t one of them but I accept the choice); they cannot all be morons and dupes. They don’t all wear egg-stained ties.
Let it go, Johnny boy, let it go. Same as the 10,000 members of the ‘Rejoin the EU’ Facebook group and the AuRevoirNotGoodbye folk on Twitter saying ‘this is our star, look after it for us’ (meaning the UK’s star on the EU flag that has now fallen off).
— Richard Batterby (@battenbergs) December 31, 2020
Some mouthy Belgian MEP called Guy Verhofstadt tweeted: “As I have always said, one day a politician will bring Britain back home to where it belongs – at the centre of our common European destiny!” There is even a pan-European political party that is campaigning for Britain to rejoin, it’s called Volt UK (doesn’t sound very British to me).
Yes, it is possible to rejoin under Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union. But good luck, really, in getting that to fly, guys. Good luck. Even if it works out, it wouldn’t be the same Britain and it wouldn’t be the same EU anyway.
And it also seems many of these people are absolutely desperate now to see Britain fail, for Britain to shrink. Maybe it doesn’t quite count as schadenfreude – taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune; as it is their misfortune too. But it’s a kind of pleasure, nonetheless.
Even if the UK does ‘shrink’ in economic terms and in terms of global influence. So what? Then that is the Britain that people voted for, that’s just the way it’s meant to be. This must be modern Britain’s true place in the world, like it or not. Live with it.
Just let it go!