Brexit: Britain’s mid-life crisis

What is your association when I say Britain and Brexit one year after the referendum, do you think that Britain is somehow different one year after the referendum? Read few comments.

Nick Wright, Teaching Fellow in EU Politics, University College London

One year on from the referendum: we are a country having the equivalent of a mid-life crisis, except instead of buying a ridiculous sports car or speedboat we have opted to leave the EU and do untold damage to ourselves. Some amongst us continue to insist not only that there is some fantastical utopia awaiting us, but that anyone who questions whether this is sensible or wise is immediately shouted down as a traitor and unpatriotic. The Brexit vote feels like a triumph of ignorance (i.e. not knowing – so, different from stupidity) and political mediocrity.

All these different trends and tensions were always below the surface but over the last year they have all exploded out into the public discourse like never before. For a country generally not associated with being good with emotions, we seem collectively to be struggling to cope.

Thomas LundbergLecturer in Politics, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow

The country has been turned on its head in the past year, with a referendum result that the establishment (and much of the public) did not expect, and now an election result that was not expected. The country is almost evenly divided over important issues, which is a major problem when we are facing very difficult challenges. I’ve never seen such disarray in the 16 years that I’ve lived here and would not want to make any predictions.

So, yes, the country is different now. I’m not sure what else to say because things are so uncertain now. A lot will depend on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and the impact on the economy. These factors will then affect the political situation. It’s too early to tell right now.

Fran Amery, Lecturer in British Politics, University of Bath

I think the biggest difference is that the vote has emboldened racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic sentiment in this country. Racist attacks have skyrocketed since the vote; the recent attacks in London and Manchester have not helped either, but the Brexit vote was a real catalyst. Finsbury Park is just the most shocking example.

Bill Jones, Senior Honorary Research Fellow,  Liverpool Hope University

My association word would be ‘quagmire’: it’s developed into a total mess. The debate which dominated the referendum has continued with both sides rerunning the arguments as nauseam. Mrs May made things worse by deciding to back the extreme Brexit people who want a complete separation from the EU and Corbyn helped her as he was scared his Remain MPs in Leave constituencies would be vulnerable in an election. However, the election has changed everything. She is fatally wounded and most likely will go in a matter of months. The ‘hard Brexit’ or total separation option had become more difficult and people like me- passionate Remainers- have even dared to hope Brexit might never happen. Young voters are opposed to Brexit and voted in large numbers against May so hope springs eternal. But I may be totally wrong!

Ed TurnerLecturer in Politics and International Relations, Aston University

The referendum result has had several important effects.  It has sown a great deal of uncertainty politically (nobody knows who the Prime Minister will be in six months’ time, or would really wish to predict the outcome or even the date of the next general election), and also economically, with the terms and impact of Brexit almost entirely unknown.  Moreover, the deep divisions between the 52% who voted to leave, and the 48% who voted to remain, continue to leave significant scars, and I would observe that politics, and perhaps society, is more divided than it was before.

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