Σάββατο, 1 Φεβρουαρίου 2020
Jonathan Freedland, The mixed emotions of Brexit day show the UK is not yet at ease with itself Brexit, Τhe Guardian,
As some take to the streets to celebrate leaving the EU, others mourn the loss of an old friend
ow does a nation say goodbye to its neighbours? With a lump in its throat and a poignant song of farewell – or with cheers and a raised middle finger of defiant good riddance? The answer that
11pm on Friday 31 January 2020 was: both. The Britain broke from the European Union on a late winter’s night with both jubilation
and regret, as divided on the day of leaving as it had been in deciding to
leave. For some Britons, this was Independence Day. For others, it was a
national bereavement. UK
, Nigel Farage exulted with his fellow Brexiters in Westminster Parliament Square,
delighted that a prize they had sought for a quarter century, and that once
seemed laughably improbable, was in their hands at last. “We did it,” he told
the ecstatic crowd. “We transformed the landscape of our country.” At the
stroke of 11pm, he led a chorus of the national anthem.
There was merch for those who wanted it: you could buy a Got Brexit Done tea-towel, perhaps using a handful of commemorative Brexit 50p pieces. If you were in Morley, you could join Andrea Jenkyns’ Big Brexit Bash, to celebrate what the Yorkshire MP called an end to “a hellish four years” and the start of what was sure to be “a golden decade”, with Britons at last in charge of their own destiny, free of the shackles ofBut for others, 11pm was, as Johnson acknowledged in his TV address to the nation, a moment of grievous loss. A YouGov poll, asking remain voters at which of the five stages of grief they now found themselves, registered only 30% who had reached acceptance of the fact of Britain’s departure from the EU: 19% are in denial, 16% are angry and 25% are depressed. (Alastair Campbell doubtless spoke for many when he said that part of him just wanted to retreat to his bed at 11pm, pulling the duvet over his head.)
Brussels Sunderland, first to declare for leave in
2016, had the joy of hosting a special Brexit day meeting of the cabinet.
That elegiac quality has been a constant note sounded through these final days of UK membership, expressed most intensely in that widely shared footage of the European parliament rising to its feet to sing Auld Lang Syne to a departing Britain (confirming this is a wrench for them as well as us). It was the sadness of saying goodbye not to an institution, but to an idea – of friendship across the sea, of harmony between nations, of a resolve that a continent riven by the bloodiest of wars would live out its future in peace.
So while Downing Street had its clock, remainers had a projection of their own: a film beamed on to the white cliffs ofAnd that was the plea contained in so many remainer goodbyes, the hope that this is not forever. That afternoon procession in
, featuring two
veterans of the second world war, both in their 90s, speaking of their sadness
at the coming of this hour. They would miss the “comradeship” of the European
Union, they said, adding the hope that “we will be back together before too
long”. The film, the work of the Led by Donkeys group, ended with an image of a
single gold star from the European flag. “This is our star,” said the message.
“Look after it for us.” Dover
The Royal Society of Literature posted an image from AA Milne: Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, hand in hand, walking into the sunset, above the caption, “But, of course, it isn’t really Good-bye, because the
Forest will always be there… and
anybody who is Friendly with Bears can find it.”
Farage was having none of that, of course. “Once we have left we are never coming back and the rest is detail,” he had said, in his parting shot to the European parliament, before, in a metaphor made flesh, he had his microphone cut off by the chair: Brexit party MEPs had broken parliamentary rules by waving union jack flags. “Put your flags away … and take them with you,” the chair said. “You are leaving.”
So for all Johnson’s talk of healing, there was no agreement between leave and remain at the moment of parting – except on one thing. Both saw 11pm as chiming in an epochal shift in the history of these islands. True, nothing material altered at that moment. TheIn that sense, 11pm ushered in a period of Brexit nirvana for Boris Johnson. For the next 11 months, he will have the best of both worlds: he can say he’s got Brexit done, and enjoy the benefits of EU membership. All the political gain, with none of the economic pain. Truly, he will have his cake and eat it.
that wakes up on Saturday will still have to stick to EU rules and pay into the
EU budget, albeit without any say, until 31 December. Britons can still go
through the EU citizens line at the airport. Things will only get real on the
first day of 2021. UK
Some remainers believe – and maybe even hope – that the shine will come off Brexit pretty soon. They point to new government advice warning citizens that, come next year, they could face roaming charges when they use their phones on the continent; that they’ll need health insurance or a special driving licence or a visa to work or study; that they’ll have to queue in the slower, non-EU lane at the airport. Remainers still have their charts, projecting a
economy turned anaemic once
goes it alone. They are poised, ready to declare: “I told you so.” Britain
But all that is over the horizon. For now,
has made one of its periodic shifts away from the continent, in a relationship
that has blown hot and cold for at least 1,200 years. Even the eighth century King Offa of Mercia fretted about trading links across the Channel. In that long sweep of history,
the 47 years we spent as Britain
might come to look like a blip. Alternatively, so might Brexit. Those draped in
blue-and-gold flags could be right: Britain-in-Europe might one day be back, even
if all but the most optimistic rejoiners believe that day is decades away. Britain
Parliament Square, site of hoarse
slanging matches for the past four years, the crowds on both sides were thinner
on Friday night, at least before the Farage rally got going. The leavers were
beaming, proud in their sweatshirts bearing the slogan: Job Done. They believe
spring is coming. The remainers were wrapped up against the cold, braced
against a January night, which, to them, felt like the bleakest midwinter.
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