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From the shadowed ruins of Brexit, the level minded approach of women such as Angela Merkel and Nicola Sturgeon will be crucial in both damage limitation and moving forward.
A constitutional crisis is one thing but an existential one is longer-lasting. Bewilderment characterises the aftermath of “Brexit”, aka, Britain’s cri de coeur. British Prime Minister David Cameron’s gamble on holding the referendum, in order to quell populist UKIP resentment and Tory party Euro skepticism, was compounded by ex-London mayor Boris Johnson’s political ambition and Justice Minister Michael Gove’s brutal scheming. Reeling with distaste at the games of slime ball and knife-throwing that culminated with Johnson’s demise, Britain remains divided along non-traditional lines that have more to do with shared anger and discontent than ideology, with mutual accusations of delusion between those who voted to leave or stay in the European Union.
Buyers’ remorse from some Brexiteers and seething condemnation from a generation that feels it has been sold down the river Styx in boats navigated by the old and the blindsided, has given rise to calls for a second referendum. “On Thursday, I too participated in an act of national insanity and voted to leave the European Union,” wrote a young regretter in The Independent. Yet, according to a survey on the day after the vote, 95 percent of those who voted for Brexit, from the shires of middle-class Dorset to the concrete slabs of impoverished inner-city deprivation, would do so again.
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A post-Brexit-partum has generated a tanking currency, uncertainty about future foreign investment, the rumbling motors of businesses readying to re-locate to other countries and a downgrading of Britain’s credit rating, all at the speed it takes to find the answer to a simple question on Wikipedia. But this vote was not the answer to complexities that should never have been diluted to a “yes” or “no” in the first place. It is more difficult to change the legal drinking age in Britain than it has been to steer into chaos the country and its continent beyond.
So now Britain perches on the cliff edge of invoking Article 50, the step forward that would set in motion the unstoppable fall into unchartered waters. Searching for any future deal with the EU will expose the oxymoron that is wanting continued access to its single market without accepting the free movement of EU labour and contributions to the bloc’s operating budget, the last two conditions being Brexit’s campaign mantra.
Hovering on that edge may just give the country a period of fevered calm. Despite the events exhausting a nation and enthralling its media – the potential unravelling of a European continent, the resignation of a British prime minister and a shadow cabinet wrapped in a mille-feuille pastry of betrayal and revenge – the EU holds up a twig of patience in return. But for how long is uncertain.
This vote was not the answer to complexities that should never have been diluted to a “yes” or “no” in the first place. It is more difficult to change the legal drinking age in Britain than it has been to steer into chaos the country and its continent beyond.
Amid the political posturing, Britain is reluctant to listen to rationalisation, and has placed itself at the epicentre of a rejection of globalisation, with America worryingly behind. A summer recess might serve to start to engage with one of the main reasons for the protest vote that drove the Brexit result: the economically left-behind absorbing nationalist rhetoric throughout the European continent. A startling sight last week was gloating “Joker” ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage standing in Brussels’ Gotham City while Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker repeated in amazement: “Why are you here?”
Thankfully, Bat-women are stepping forward, standing out in sober reassurance, pitch-perfect in their intonation for calmness and understanding at a time of shock and uncertainty. Germany’s Angela Merkel and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, fly their capes in the name of national unity while still voicing the concerns of those they represent, in memory of another voice of reason and commitment other than to herself, murdered British MP, Jo Cox. Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom now vie for Number 10, as does Angela Eagle for the Labour Party, pushing to one side the puerile antics of their male colleagues. As America pauses on the brink of its own political precipice, could another Bat-woman join in the fight against another schoolboy with a hooligan’s sense of responsibility?
Life is not perfect but people deserve better. This group of female leaders might not find all the answers to the push-pull of national and political identity but they could go a long way to diffusing its dynamics, before others seize power and normalise anger to advocate extreme solutions.