There is no doubt in my mind that Brexit will be severely negative for Britain, both as a country and for the majority of its population. However recently I’ve come to doubt that Brexit is an overall bad thing and am coming to toy with the thought that Brexit might be the best thing to happen and the harder the better. Let me explain why that is.
To do that, I believe I have to explain a bit about me:
I am a European and hold EU nationality. I am not a British citizen and have no vote in general elections in the UK. I do however live in London and hold down a good job that put’s me - according to HMRC - in the top 5% by annual income and also provides additional private health insurance. I own my own home and several other assets, so neither my short-term nor long-term prosperity are in much doubt Brexit or no Brexit. I am also very socially liberal and quite metropoilitan so when the term “liberal metropolitan elite” is voiced I can only say “that’s me and I’m proud of it”. Beside that I am white and male and speak English to a level that most Brits or Americans can only aspire to and with an accent that most Brits would place in America or Canada, while most Americans would place in Britain. In short racism, xenophobia, misogyny or need are not problems I am facing or am ever likely to face. In short I live what must objectively called a very privileged life though not on the level of a Warren Buffet or even a Jacob Rees-Mogg. Politically I am probably most inline with - as a short-hand description - the Liberal Democrats, although I’d be more on the left of that movement and can sympathise with many but not all of the ideas that Labour promotes. I believe we should have a strong health-care for everyone and excellent education across the board to the extent that Eton goes broke because the public education is of such quality that stingy Tories see it as a waste of money. I also believe that as a society we have an obligation to take care of our weakest members so that food-banks or homeless shelters should simply not exist.
Given that position in life, I have a divided view on Brexit.
On the one hand as an inhabitant of the United Kingdom I cannot want Brexit because it would or will be an absolute disaster for this ountry and this society. But it is something that Britons have chosen and gotten themselves into. As a liberal, who am I to proscribe the path this country chooses?
On the other hand I am a European. There is little doubt in my mind that Brexit has significanlty assisted in stabilizing the European Union. Brexit has made it clear to all members that the EU is the only hope Europe has for a prosperous and relevant future. It has also caused the European Union to speak with one voice for the first time in a long while. In addition with Brexit the EU is excorporating one of the key blockers to a closer political union. Britain is certainly not alone in blocking further political union, but it is by far the strongest proponent; to the degree that the others such as Hungary are highly unlikely to be able to sway the EU as a whole in the future.
This ever closer union, is both necessary for EU stability and for achieving the relevance on the global stage that Europe could have and wants to have. And if that closer union proceeds, I foresee the opportunity to have a strong core of the EU, which would exclude countries like Hungary, Norway, Poland and Switzerland. This core would form a federal entity. On the periphery there could form a collaborative free trade block that includes the current EU members that are not part of the core and makes room for countries like Turkey which are economically aligned but politcally too far away from European ideals. This outer group would also have room for a future Britain (whether with Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland or without).
In short I can see Brexit as an opportunity for the European Union to progress and strengthen itself; and as a European this prospect is not unappealing albeit at the cost of the United Kingdom.
At the same time while this scenario would be an incredible boon to the EU it would be disastrous for Britain. The income gap in this country would open up even further, many people would suffer and slide into destitution, the health-service would potentially collapse and people would die. All off this is already beginning to happen and Brexit achieved would only exacerbate the situation. I cannot in good conscience advocate for such an outcome. I don’t however have a vote; and Britons seem hell-bent on self-imolation by electing a Tory government certain to take them down this path.
So I am left to hope for a Labour majority (however unlikely this seems at the moment) and a Labour Brexit (with a customs union and single market membership) winning overwhelmingly in a second referendum. That way I might get a Brexit boon for the EU with at least limited damage to the UK; and the damage to the UK would at least be handled by a government that knows that compassion is a word.