So… the UK is to leave the EU.
I have wondered for a very long time how any thinking person could be in favour of an institution which is clearly not merely undemocratic, but anti-democratic. This was the last opportunity to save our sovereignty from oblivion and I dread to think what would have happened if the "Remains" had prevailed.
I wonder if Boris will soon be moving into Number Ten?
We now watch with interest what will happen in Scotland.
To my eternal shame, I voted to join the EEC at the first referendum - it was actually the first time I was allowed to vote, and I was young and ignorant. Of course, this country was lied to by the politicians, who told us that this was just about trade, and nothing to do with federalism, knowing full well that that was the intent from the beginning.
No wonder the EU is disappointed at the result (to put it mildly). We have been one of the foremost net contributors and they must be wondering where all that lovely cash is going to come from, from now on!
What we must now hope for is that our leaders do not panic and make unwise decisions, but proceed circumspectly, and allow what has happened to become the great opportunity for Britain that Boris has suggested.
Whatever the result, what has emerged is that this is a deeply divided nation, and here and in Europe, it is clear that ordinary people are deeply disillusioned with politics and feel disempowered in the decision-making process. The ramifications are immense, and seismic waves will spread throughout the globe. The very foundations of the EU are shaking and it will be interesting to see if other member states will also demand a referendum on whether to remain. I've just said to my hubby that this could be the greatest constitutional crisis since the abdication in 1936 when the monarchy was thought to be in jeopardy.
Edited later in the day, as I have thought more about the ramifications of what has happened:
It was an extremely close-run thing. I just had to stay up to follow the progress. One has to respect the views of nearly half the population who voted to stay in, and to understand their motivation - the margin was so small that none of us can afford to gloat. Some rather foolish things have been said by certain people, suggesting that only those in favour of leaving were sensible, “real” people – this is insulting to those who voted to leave. Whatever people’s views, and however they voted, their opinions are valid. It is a question of becoming as well-informed as possible from the information available, and then responding according to one’s own perspective. This, surely, is democracy! One person who had voted to remain, said that this was a disaster for the country, and that the Brexit people should have listened to the “experts” (such as himself) and that they had voted emotionally and not in response to the facts. I find this insulting and patronising. Most people who voted to leave did so because they had seriously considered the issues and done their own research and come to their own conclusions. None of this sort of mud-slinging is helpful in any way; what we need is a mature appraisal of the facts, and good sense directing the way in which we go forward from now on; we must face the future united in a common search for what is best for the country, and make the most of the great opportunity that has been given to us.
For most of those who voted to remain, their reasons hinged on economics - what we will lose from leaving, all the trade agreements with Europe etc. etc., regardless of the fact we are fourth in the list of net contributors and have paid out far more than we have gained over the years. Membership has cost us dearly. They forget that we have always had trade with the rest of the world as well as Europe, and that the UK is in the top league of financial centres in the world, and this is nothing to do with being a member of the EU. We don't need to be part of Europe, and we are far from being a pathetic little isolationist country off the great continent of Europe, about to be cast off into the deep to sink or swim.
However, there is a whole lot more to it than that. Through treaty after treaty we have gradually signed away our sovereignty. We fought the 2nd World War to preserve our precious democracy and self-determination and since the 1970s we have progressively lost freedom after freedom to Brussels. It is not the European Parliament that runs Europe, but a group of unelected commissioners who are not accountable to anybody. The laws they have passed, and the treaties drawn up, are so complicated that no one person can understand them all. We have lost our self-determination, and the highest court in the land (the House of Lords) is now subject to the European Court of Justice, and we cannot pass any laws in our own parliament that go against the wishes of Brussels. The Queen has been forced to abandon her sacred coronation oath to defend the freedoms of her realm, and has been put in an impossible position. None of this is democratic. There is a huge gravy train on which a few unelected people are making vast sums of money at our expense. They do not have our interests at heart and it is high time that we took back the reins and started running our own affairs again.
Brussels is understandably very concerned about this move. They will lose an important source of revenue and our leaving is really rocking their boat, with several other member states now questioning how things are run.
Issues of immigration are of course very important, and it worries a lot of people that we are being flooded with migrants from Eastern Europe and our economy is struggling, and the NHS is on the verge of collapse. There is a great deal of ill feeling and resentment. More fundamentally, however, I believe that our hard-won sovereignty and ancient democracy are worth fighting for, formed through the centuries from Magna Carta, through the Civil War and Cromwell's Commonwealth before the restoration of the monarchy, when it was decided once and for all that the power of the monarchy should be curbed, and that the people should have the power to remove the government if it was not doing what it was elected to do, and that there should be no taxation without representation. (We pay taxes to Europe but have no power to remove that particular government.) This country's government is known as the Mother of Parliaments, and most of the world's democracies derive from our hard-won experience over many centuries, and in the last generation we have meekly handed it all over to those who have no business determining how we run our own nation. We might as well have rolled over and let the Nazis take over. Thousands upon thousands of lives were lost in that struggle and now, the end result is the same, without a single shot being fired - no self-determination, and no power to remove the oppression – OK, there isn’t the same degree of violent oppression, but the principle is the same. This was the last opportunity for us to have any say in our future, and to restore our autonomy, and thank God we succeeded before the door was closed forever on our ability to choose, and it was done in the nick of time. If David Cameron did one good thing, it was to allow this referendum.
This is a very, very significant move, of massive constitutional importance, and it goes far beyond whether we allow immigrants in or not, or whether the pound will go down, or big business will lose trade with Europe (actually there is no reason why that should happen - look at Switzerland to see how prosperous a non-member state in Europe can be). It is fascinating that many of the member states are expressing dissatisfaction with the anti-democratic nature of the European Commission, and what we achieved yesterday may give other nations "permission" to demand their own referendum too. It could mean the collapse of the EU.
What was exposed last night as the votes came in was that we are a deeply divided nation, and both sides showed a deep disillusionment with the establishment. The leadership of both main parties is at odds with their electorate, and whichever way the vote had gone, the powers that be would have to have addressed this real dissatisfaction with Westminster. Things could not have gone on like this much longer, and the immigration issue alone could have been enough to light the tinderbox and lead to riots or worse. It is significant that the Brexit vote has led to the resignation of the leaders of both the major political parties. What we need now is strong leadership from someone who is actually in favour of our leaving, and has the vision to see what an extraordinary opportunity this could be for our country if it is handled correctly. We need to pray for wisdom for our leaders, more today than ever before. I believe that God is giving this nation one last chance.
Today I have been thinking of this situation in terms of cancer. It is as if this nation has been suffering from cancer, and most people have not even been aware of the seriousness of the situation, just living from day to day and accepting a slight feeling of weakness and loss of control, and bleeding in the direction of Brussels, which we have been trying not to think about. The publicity in the run-up to the referendum was like a scan, heightening people's awareness of the nation's condition, and what happened yesterday was major surgery, with the size of the tumour being revealed as it was removed, and its enormity exposed to the nation. Yesterday's result was a shock to most people, including our friends and family, far and near. There are some, of course, who are still in denial, and refuse to see how serious our situation had become. Now that it is out, the treatment can begin. There will be tough times ahead until things stabilise and the new status quo is brought into being, and people will suffer, just as a person suffers more from the treatment than they did from the cancer, even though, if left untreated, the end would be death. The struggles of the next few years will be like going through chemo, with unpleasant side-effects and a time of weakness, and other matters being pushed into the background while we focus on this important issue. Once the process is complete, we can look forward to a new life, full of independent strength, and the ability once again to choose our own destiny, and hopefully a greater awareness of the preciousness of life and of our own personality and individuality, and our valuable place in the world. We will look back on our struggles and know that it has all been worthwhile, and we are stronger than we were before.