Those who wish to postpone or reverse Brexit seem fixated on pointing up the short term economic risks and inconveniences. In Belloc’s words their slogan is
” [To]… always keep ahold of nurse
For fear of finding something worse”.
But do they understand what they are saying or how their message to the British people comes across? It would seem to be that, even if leaving without a deal were to be in the long term interest of the UK, it should be postponed or reversed because of fears of short term disruptions. A staggeringly unattractive proposition. Ill-judged, pusillanimous and short termist, it leaves many Remainers, let alone all Brexiteers, wholy unconvinced and longing for something more ‘visionary’.
Future prosperity might once have provided that ‘vision’. However, no one is promising ‘streets paved with gold’ and, as to longer term economic harm, nothing worse than UK citizens getting richer slightly more slowly than they might otherwise have done is threatened. Hardly visionary. In fact , not visionary at all.
Once there was a vision of a ‘New Europe’. One united in a liberal and forward looking venture that might have satisfied that longing for a ‘vision’. But with the stupifying arrogance that ushered in the Euro and hung Greece out to dry; the rise of white Christian supremacists in Central Europe and the resurgence of nationalism across the continent in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, the vision is now dystopian. One of disunity, illiberalism and reaction. So, is there any ‘vison’ of the future which those who are chary of a hard Brexit might conjure up? There is.
The ‘vision’ is not just available but, better still, it is an existing reality: a vision in which many people, and especially the young, are already living. It is the ‘right to roam’. The right to travel, to study and research, to live and to raise a family, to work and to set up business in 28 states stretching from Greece in the East to Ireland in the West. From Sicily in the South to the fastnesses of Sweden and Finland in the North. If surrendered through a hard Brexit, UK citizens will find themselves confined to the British Isles and requiring the permission of those ‘dreaded foreigners’ to travel beyond their shores. No longer “set in the silver sea”, their “sceptred isle” will become a Devil’s Island of their very own making.