29 March is supposed to feel like a momentous occasion, as though the UK has hauled up its anchor and is sailing over the horizon towards the Atlantic, bunting flapping and with those aboard waving cheerily to those left on land in Europe, as they stand at the dockside, teary-eyed and regretful. It doesn’t feel momentous in that way to me. It feels as though the UK is perched on the edge of a precipice, with feelings of vertigo, knowing that the pull over the edge is too strong to resist, but also not sure whether plunging over is entirely advisable.
I can’t speak for the whole of the country, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of the reasons why 70% of my local population voted leave. In no particular order: anger with the EU over fishing regulations, the country being run from London for the benefit of London, life-damaging inequality, deprivation, and a complete feeling of powerlessness and shouting yourself hoarse, only to be overlooked as just another post-industrial town. Apparently we’re supposed to all put up and shut up while the “managed decline” of areas like this carry on, watching everything drain south. It’s as though someone has tipped the north of the country on its head, sending everything – people, money, skills, opportunities in a great flood to the south-east.
The sad thing is that, for the next two years, Brexit will continue to dominate the political narrative. All this while the issues affecting people’s everyday lives will get worse and continue un-noted as the “Jams” silently drown in despair of the notion that society will ever become more equal and benefit all its members, and not just those at the top. They will be left clinging to a lifebuoy with Brexit written on it as they slowly drift out to sea.
• Yesterday, when article 50 was triggered, a Romanian man come round to clean our gutters – a well-educated, conscientious, courteous, proud man, who loved the opportunities he had for his wife (a pharmacist), and his two teenage children, both studying for higher qualifications, here in the UK.
It brought home what we will come to miss most if these hardworking and courteous people are not able to stay, or feel disinclined to come. At least it made us proud to be among the 16 million-plus people who voted to remain. We may be called “remoaners” but we’ll take the label and be proud of it. Oh, and he did a great job cheerfully and competently, which is more than I can say for some of the local builders we’ve had.
• Long overdue and with mighty accord, Britain is now stepping into an era of freedom denied to its citizens for over 40 years, where laws once again emanate from an accountable British parliament, not unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels. Far from Britain stepping into the unknown, our salvation is now on the horizon as we withdraw from the fiasco of the EU.
• On Wednesday I was writing a letter to the US. As I started to put my address at the head of the letter I hesitated. I found myself unable to use “the United Kingdom” in my address. The title seemed presumptuous, open to question and even to ridicule. “Britain” seemed rather overbearing and out-of-date, conjuring up a time when Aethelred was king. I settled on using “England”, but forbore, for the time being, adding “Little”.
• Mostly I am sad at losing a close friend who has always been a large part of me. I am sad too at the waste of time, energy and expertise that could better be used to deal with more urgent and serious problems. I am also saddened by the gloating, the smugness and the platitudinous reassurances: these are self-inflicted dark times as we leap unnecessarily into the unknown.
• With Theresa May writing to Donald Tusk to give notice of our intention to leave the EU, I just wanted to say that joining the Unite for Europe march last Saturday was the proudest day of my life.
• Theresa May signed her letter below a portrait of Sir Robert Walpole (Simon Jenkins, 30 March). In 1739, on giving way to political pressure and declaring war on Spain he said: “They now ring the bells, but they will soon wring their hands.” He was proved correct.
• In order to bring terminology into line with political reality, will the government now make it compulsory to refer to the famous bronze statue in central Brussels as the Manneken Piss Off?
Patricia de Wolfe
• “No one who ignored the remainers’ warnings wants to be assailed with a smug chorus of ‘we told you so’ ” (Opinion, 29 March). Eh? It’s the only thing I’ve been looking forward to.
• I know it’s important, but enough already. Do we really need dozens of columnists all writing about one subject, rehashing the same tired old positions on all sides? There is other news around and about the world.
• Now that the divorce papers have been filed, may we children be allowed to choose which parent we would like to live with?
• You report that Guy Verhofstadt, EU parliament Brexit co-ordinator “didn’t even use or think about the use of the word blackmail” (EU warns: don’t blackmail us, 30 March). The correct word to describe the government’s approach is extortion.
Chichester, West Sussex
• I hope the Guardian has put the pieces taken out of the jigsaw (Britain steps into the unknown, 29 March) in a safe place. They may have to be put back sometime.
• The worst aspect of leaving the EU is that it legitimises policymaking based on emotion unsupported by information.
• Can we now be spared any further pictures of Nigel Farage smirking over a pint?
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