Brexit – the mood at grassroots level eight weeks on

Away from the debate between politicians, businessmen and campaigners  about the best exit route, eight weeks after the memorable result of June’s referendum, life for ordinary people has settled down remarkably quickly.

In fact, it soon became apparent within a matter of days after June 23rd that life was carrying on as normal for much of the country. I recall a trip to London during the final week of June.  Walking down the south bank of the Thames, it struck me how little effect the referendum result  was having on day to day life. A long queue of people of all nationalities were waiting to buy tickets to the London Eye and the restaurants were full – in fact, my train home was even fuller! In short, you wouldn’t have thought we had just taken a major political decision only a few days ago.

Initial statistics suggest that life did indeed carry on much as normal during the first full month after the Brexit vote.  The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits fell by 8,600 in July. It had been expected to rise by around 9,000. The fall was the first since February this year. Other data showed that the employment rate in the UK reached a record high of 74.5% between April and June this year. Retail sales also grew by 1.4% during the month. The vote to leave the EU has not deterred people from spending money.  Furthermore, for all the uncertainly generated by David Cameron’s decision to call the referendum, London attracted more venture capital for start-ups than other major European cities. According to an article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, it attracted €1.5bn in the first half of the year, well ahead of its nearest rivals Stockholm (€1bn), Paris (€674m), and Berlin (€520m).

Significantly. although the rate of UK consumer price inflation jumped to 0.6% in the year to July followin the Brexit vote, it was only slightly up on the 0.5% recorded in March and still well below the 1% threshold which triggers a letter from the governor of the Bank of England to the Chancellor explaining why inflation is so far below the 2% target!

BBC Radio 4 broadcast an interesting programme on Wednesday Evening where two groups of people from the most pro-leave and the most pro-remain areas of the UK met in separate rooms to discuss their feelings following the Brexit vote. Two Rooms, hosted by Fi Glover,  was another fascinating insight into how quickly life has settled down. The leavers, from Boston, Lincolnshire, were the more optimistic of the two groups, expressing great hopes especially for the UK’s trade prospects. The remainers, from Brixton in South London, talked of their shock when the result was announced. They were concerned about possible loss of access to the single market and expected an economic downturn.

Both groups,  however, accepted the result. Indeed, one person used the phrase “now we’ve left”, even though we haven’t even invoked Article 50 let alone come out the other end! Interestingly, both groups saw Brexit as a long overdue opportunity to re-boot our democracy and to decentralise power to a local level. For all the initial horror of some Brixtonian remainers, there were no calls for a second referendum. They may not have wanted a leave vote, but Brexit as far as they were concrned means Brexit.

Such attitudes at the grassroots level should not come as a shock. For four month’s David Cameron’s decison to call the referendum  thrust the issue of EU membership into a prominence it had never previously enjoyed.  A year ago, just before the General election, a survey by YouGov placed “Europe” as far down as 7th in its list of voters’ priority issues, well behind housing, welfare and health. Anyone who has ever stood as a UKIP candidate will have known the frustration that in general elections, the EU was never widely viewed as the most important factor in determining how people would vote.  After its moment in the spotlight, it is therefore unsurpisingly again receding into the background.

But not totally. News that over a million Eastern European migrants are now working in the UK will have served as a reminder to some people why they voted to leave, while the Daily Express has unearthed another story which will raise plenty of hackles:- a German-based agency called whose data is used by offical EU websites, has published a chart showing that the greatest number of medals in the Rio Olympics has been won by the EU! Nowhere is the UK to  be seen, which is  particularly galling considering the tremendous performances by Team GB. It seems that the Brexit vote has done nothing to change the mindset of the EU élite who opened a museum four years ago costing £44 million and called the “House of European History” which calls the Second World War a “civil war“, in spite of quite a bit of the action taking place in North Africa and the Far East

While it seems impossible to change this very selective and bizarre interpretation of history, hopefully, if our government and Civil Service can get their act together, by the time the 2020 Olympics begin in Tokyo, “now we’ve left” really will mean “now we’ve left” and the likes of Medaltracker will not be able to repeat their insult to our heroic athletes.



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John Petley

John Petley

John Petley is Operations Manager for Campaign for an Independent Britain

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  2. Phil JonesReply

    John, ‘medaltracket’ was just reflecting the reality that the UK hasn’t been a country since 1992 and remains (until 2 years after Article 50 at the earliest) one of 28 EU provinces in a federal EU country. International law has a tenet that all that is important between territories is the functional relationship that exists between the territories, not the moniker that the territories apply to their relationship. At present the UK is 3/4 or so governed by new EU law originated at the European Commission in the same way that people in Florida are governed by new laws emanating in Wash. DC as well as new Florida state law. EU laws come into the UK as Directives that are rubber-stamped at Westminster. In 24 years no Directive has ever been rejected, and no major UK political party had any intention of rejecting a Directive. It has been, and will continue to be until Brexit is fully implemented, a massive fraud on the British people by successive Labour and Conservative governments. At least people in Canada and the U.S. (both federal countries) get letters directly from Ottawa and Wash. DC, respectively, in regard matters under their control. Being someone who was trained in constitutional law in Canada (though proud to be a British citizen by birth), I have followed the EU/UK relationship closely for about 35 years and was in London when the relationship changed from an economic one to a political one. John Major should have given the people a vote in 1992 on changing the UK from a country to an EU province, but of course he knew what the result of having a referendum at that time would have been. Ever since then I worked tirelessly as did many others to try and get the British people a say on how they are governed. The last 24 years of ongoing deceit by Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron as to the true status of the UK/EU relationship will be noted by historians to the great discredit of the named politicians. I look forward to Mrs. May returning the UK to be a country once more, where someone from the U.S., Russia or Brazil has exactly the same chance of gaining permanent UK residence as someone from France or Germany — those from the EU provinces having no better right to entry than anyone from anywhere else in the world. For me that will be the true test as to whether the UK has truly returned to being an independent country.

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