The independent London newspaper

We need a new dialogue with Brexit

31 October, 2019

• THE Brexit debate over the past three years has, by and large, been conducted on the basis of emotional slogans (“take back control”, “will of the people”, “Brexit mean Brexit” etc) which have all too often overridden any sober reflections about what we really voted for, and why.

Any attempt to engage in rational debate has been effectively thwarted by large parts of the media and by those politicians and their influential billionaire backers who will most benefit from a divided country and a hard or no-deal Brexit.

Let us not forget that populism and extremism can only thrive where division exists and hence it is in their interests to fuel the fires of resentment and persuade “the people” that their will is being betrayed by “evil” institutions such as the courts and parliament.

If we are to heal the country and create the tolerant and inclusive society that I believe many wish for, we need to create new dialogue, one that seeks to understand and respect the views of “the other side”.

Leavers aren’t “all stupid” and neither are remainers. We all had legitimate reasons for voting the way we did; but these reasons need to be aired and discussed in a calm and rational manner, away from the amplifying distortions of the media and self-serving politicians.

The reality is that there is probably more common ground between the two sides than areas of difference. I suspect that on matters of health, education, employment opportunities, community investment and security most people share very similar views.

So before it’s too late I would make a plea for a network of citizens’ assemblies, to be established nationally, as a precursor to any “confirmatory referendum”. Only then will be able to judge what UK citizens really want. That is, it will be based on informed choice.

It is beholden on every responsible politician, who is serious about healing the divisions that bedevil this country, to back such a move in order to understand what sort of country people really want to live in and to move beyond the meaningless emotional slogans that have characterised the debate to date.

Tulip Siddiq and Sir Keir Starmer, will you lead the way?



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