The wounds left by Thursday’s vote are still raw. The shock still reverberates. Feelings come in waves. Sadness. Anger. Disbelief. Confusion. Attempts at reasoned thought short-circuited by emotion. They did it. They really bloody did it.
From the moment the first results came through in the early hours of Friday morning, it was clear that the Remain camp were in trouble. Now we know just how much trouble.
Chaos in the Leave camp; quickly revoking campaign promises; key leaders AWOL for large periods; the admission that there was no plan. How could they? Are you really surprised? What happens next?
Turmoil in the Markets; increasing reports of racist incidents; joy amongst gloating xenophobes and nihilistic leftists alike. No surprise given the racism and political luddism that drove the Leave campaign. Is this my country? Yes, and you knew it was like that. In parts maybe, but not this much, surely?
Frightening uncertainty for foreigners in the UK, for Brits in the EU, for business, for government, for the EU. Widespread expressions of ‘Bregret’. The fools! How dare they? Couldn’t they see what would happen? Don’t they know they will suffer most? Why do we even bother?
Given the closeness of the result and the enormity of the consequences, it’s no surprise that there have been calls for a second referendum. Despite popular petitions, despite the ever-more apparent lies of the Leave campaign, despite claims that it was a protest vote that wasn’t really about the EU, despite the media bias, despite the self-harming tendencies of the electorate, we have to accept the democratic decision to leave the EU. It is time to move on.
It is time to accept Brexit as a reality and move on to dealing with its causes and consequences, rather than wallowing between rage and melancholy.
It should also be time for the Labour party to move on. A credible, pro-EU opposition, a modern, social democratic party, fit for the 21st Century is needed more than ever. However, with Jeremy Corbyn firmly entrenched (among party members if not MPs) it is more likely that many Labour supporters, myself included, will have to move on from the party.
It is also time for those of us who fight to reform and defend the EU, fight to secure Europe’s future to move on from Britain to countries where the EU has a chance. Some of us already have. But wait, it couldn’t happen here too, could it?
Benjamin Tallis is the Co-ordinator of the Centre for European Security of the Institute of International Relations in Prague;, he is Editor-in-Chief of New Perspectives: Interdisciplinary Journal of CEE Politics and IR
The article was first published in Czech in Hospodarske Noviny.