Sleeves Up

BY MATTHEW CORRIGAN

That’s it. Later today the Prime Minister will write to the President of the European Council, formally giving notice of the intention of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to leave the European Union. It is, to all intents and purposes, over.

I have much sympathy for the vast majority of those who voted to stay – ordinary, decent people (including many good friends) who voted for perfectly sound reasons and were disappointed. To them, I extend commiserations and the hand of friendship. On a personal level, I know my friends with whom I disagreed are keen put the whole thing behind them and strive to make the situation work.

Unfortunately there remains, as ever, a noisy hardcore who wish to scream from the sidelines. I speak not of those who calmly and eloquently express their fears; these are self-evidently uncertain times. We are the first country to leave the EU and will be the first to discover what lies beyond. I believe we have made the right choice but can understand why some feel a degree of trepidation. No, I’m talking instead about the angry mob.  Those who refuse to accept the majority view, who have already (and may still further) seek to overturn the outcome of a vote that didn’t go their way.

Whilst I am obviously nothing more than a bigoted, poorly-educated (actually, I’ll concede that one – state system, I’m afraid), left-behind old man who enjoys nothing more than draping myself in an England flag and menacing foreigners with a muscular dog, I’ve somehow managed to acquire sufficient awareness to understand that we’re living in a democracy, however imperfect it may be.

Reading the disgusting stream of vicious bile that has flooded the social media sites since last June, it’s rather difficult to believe that it was actually a substantial majority that voted to leave. Although it has become evident that there is a particularly vocal minority that wishes to set the ‘narrative’ in this country, and view any deviation from their, erm, shining path as abhorrent, I’m afraid they’re going to have to accept what has happened.

In continuing to heap scorn on those of whom they clearly disapprove, further fomenting the already febrile atmosphere and adding to the division that is present, on so many levels, across the country, they are endearing themselves to nobody outside their own cosy little bubble righteousness and actually harming our communities.

Those with the loudest voices have so often been the most destructive, spreading misinformation (I know of at least one celebrity who claimed interest rates rose immediately after the Brexit vote – in fact the opposite happened) and encouraging their millions of followers to hurl abuse at anyone brave or foolish enough to stick their heads over the parapet.

There has been much intolerance and hypocrisy since last June. Let it be over. Brexit is happening. We owe it to ourselves to make the most of it. By pulling together we can really make it work.

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