The Brexit Absolution is Coming — and We Must Stand Up to It

Absolution. Alongside hypocrisy it’s a key characteristic of Brexit and has been since day one.

David Cameron sought to absolve himself of, for him, uncomfortable responsibilities as a party leader, wanting to resolve internal Tory infighting with a national referendum on Britain’s EU membership.

Leave leaders like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Gisela Stuart sought to absolve themselves of, for them, uncomfortable facts, obliterating the truth. And then doing it some more.

Some media outlets sought to absolve themselves of the need for accuracy, going for catchy headlines or what they called “balance” even though there is no balance on facts.
And some of the financial backers of the Leave campaigns sought to absolve themselves of the law.

No wonder, therefore, that all this should culminate now in many Brexiters seeking to absolve themselves of the ever-increasing negative fallout of the EU referendum. Whatever they don’t like they dismiss as something that is the EU’s fault. Or the fault of “Remoaners”. Taking responsibility for their actions? For the campaign they supported? Not so much.

Of course this isn’t such a big surprise: combusting pipe-dreams are never a pretty sight.

But — and regardless of what happens next — if Brexit supporters continue to cherry-pick their reality, there will never be a chance to overcome the divisions that have opened up. They need to take responsibility.

Nowhere is the need for that responsibility more urgent than with respect to the situation of EU citizens at home in the UK like me, and our British friends who live in another EU country. We have lived in limbo for over 900 days now and we are faced with specific immediate threats that apply only to us — threats that are only part of our lives now because of the EU referendum.

For EU citizens at home in the UK the immediate specific threat is the requirement for us to apply for so-called settled status if we want to stay. There is nothing automatic about the process. We have known this for over a year now, but because this application process has been frequently cast as a simple registration, it is only now that the wider public is becoming more aware of its real implications. In part, this is due to trials for the scheme having started, and more problems with it being revealed daily.

But a specific recent trigger was a clip produced and shared by the Home Office. In that clip smiling faces — stock photographs — and upbeat music, were used to make look nice the fact that 3.6 million of us already at home in the UK will have to apply so we have a chance of remaining in our home.

The impact of the Home Office clip was immediate: EU citizens were disgusted by how this portrayed the process as something to smile about, and the release during the Christmas holidays was also heavily criticised.

Many others, new voices joining in the criticism, too were upset, learning about the scheme and its presentation in the Home Office clip for the first time.
Loudly audible amongst the critics was Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator. A Brexit supporter editing a Brexit-supporting weekly that also gives endless platforms to writers stirring hate against immigrants and EU citizens, such as Rod Liddle.

Yet it was absolution that Mr Nelson sought. It’s “just awful”, he tweeted, criticising the clip’s “sinister tone”. Awful and sinister — suitable words to describe the rhetoric employed against immigrants, EU citizens and freedom of movement during the EU referendum campaign. Awful and sinister — visually depicted on newspaper front page after newspaper front page; on the “Breaking Point” poster and many other materials in 2016. Awful and sinister — absolution from it cannot be had by those who looked the other way when “awful and sinister” is essentially the hallmark of Brexit.

Of course the idea of absolution, of cherry-picking the reality one likes, is very appealing. I am sure nobody would love to do that more than all of us EU citizens. We would cherry-pick politicians like Joanna Cherry and Caroline Lucas who have been supporting us for a long time. Cherry-pick the Scottish government as our government because they have given EU citizens so much hope.

But we do not have the luxury of cherry-picking anything. We are forced to own the fallout of the EU referendum because it is our life now. That is why Brexite absolution, like that pursued by Mr Nelson, cannot just be left unchallenged. The fallout from leaving the EU, a policy Brexiters are all about, is one they must own. No ifs. No buts. No cherry-picking. For once Brexit really does mean Brexit.

Comments (14)

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  1. Willie says:

    A good article and no one should be in any doubt what Brexit is about.

    It is about hatred against the dirty filthy foreign scum who come here to steal our jobs, live off the state, and destroy our way of life. And pre Brexit the hostile environment is the precursor to letting the kaffirs have a taste of their superiors whip again.

    Quite how creating this belligerent, foreigner hating state on the doorstep of Europe will bring prosperity is anyone’s guess. But Alf Garnet is back, Rhodesia is restored, white faces run Pretorias Government again, and Britain is headed for greatness again.

    Reinforces exactly why Scotland needs to exit this madness as soon as possible and move the EU border to Gretna.

    1. Andy Cee says:

      It was and never has been about the racist rubbish you intone.

      It always has been about sovereignty. I own my exit vote and will live with the fallout as will the majority of us. You apologists are nothing but cowards un prepared to fight for anything.

      1. Scotland will certainly live with the “fallout” we didn’t vote for you are quite right Andy. An estimated minimum of 80,000 job losses. What a catastrophe.

      2. John Marshall says:

        Sovereignty eh? That old chestnut!
        A few questions.
        1) Please define what you mean by Sovereignty
        2) Please explain how you feel we lost Sovereignty by pooling it within the EU.
        3) What damage was done to this country by this alleged loss of Sovereignty that you are so unhappy about?
        4) As you have an issue with Sovereignty please explain your views on the UK pooling it’s Sovereignty by being members of the UN and NATO.
        5) How much Sovereignty are you expecting us to lose in Trade negotiations with players such as the USA, China and the EU that are all much larger than us?
        6) What benefits will flow to this country and its citizens through Brexit and it’s alleged regaining of Sovereignty that the Goverment itself confirmed that we never lost?
        We await your answers with interest, but it must be said, not while holding our breath!

      3. Michael Jones says:

        Sovereignty eh?
        That old chestnut.
        Why did The Sun (the largest circulation UK) and the Daily Mail (Best selling UK) keep on vilifying migrants?…… because the readers loved it.
        Get real Andy

  2. John B Dick says:

    At 08:00 the day after the vote, the FM was on the street promising that she and her government would do anything within their power to protect the rights of EU citizens living and working in Scotland.

    There were reports that EU citizen’s, hearing her, wept.

  3. Dougie Blackwood says:

    Not much to say really. The whole Brexit fiasco has been an exercise in fomenting racism and xenophobia; plant the fake horror stories and get the gullible to hate “MIGRANTS”. Haven’t seen it yet but am waiting for the Mail and Express to have headlines saying “BOOT THEM OUT”.

    The register and pay £65 pound is a cheap way of creating the “Little List” if you remember the Dad’s Army episode. Apply to stay and be added to the list of those awaiting expulsion when BREXIT day comes.

    You really couldn’t make it up.

    1. Andy Cee says:

      You could and you are making it up.

  4. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    The racism and xenophobia, although, probably, a strong prejudice held by a number of the leaders of Leave, is principally a mechanism for diverting attention from the main purpose of having the UK leave the EU is to reduce regulation, particularly, employee rights, to create the conditions in which the very wealthy can hoover up huge amounts of wealth and impoverish the rest. This will create the social conditions for continual social strife, again precluding the development of an opposition.

    1. Dougie Blackwood says:

      You’re right Alasdair. They got the votes via xenophobia but the leaders are looking to milk the workers by removing their rights and cutting their wages. They are looking to take UK back to Victorian terms and conditions.

      1. Willie says:

        Yes Dougie, “ freed” from the EU, the plan is for the Great Repeal Bill to remove the pesky workers rights and protections incorporated into UK law through the various EU directives.

        A sweat shop economy beckons and all backed up by an Orwellian hostile state that will ruthlessly strive to maintain control of the working poor through mechanisms similar to apartheid South Africa.

        No doubt the first test will be Northern Ireland where the gauntlet has been thrown down, the assembly suspended and the GFA torn up. And wouldn’t some of the establishment just dearly love a re-run of the troubles in a new found show of strength. They may get their wish, they really might, and every country needs an enemy, especially an enemy within.

  5. Tom Kane says:

    Beautifully said, Tanja…

    There’s this mad Dickensian narrative that has always been attractive to the powers that be in the UK. Their way back to civilised behavious after inventing concentration camps, scalping, poor houses, industrial scale slavery, and now the full scale crashing of the UK economy into the European economy in the hope of short-selling gains and trashing social fabrics for profits… It greatly depends on absolutionism.

    We will have to cope with the msm revising, mea-culping and begging to find decency in ordinary human beings in little stories when it really was an orchestration of nastiness that brought us to this … Nastiness in no small part perpetrated by the BBC and its relationships with the right wing press…

    And it is right to call them out on this. All we have is our own sense of right and wrong, our ability to call out cant, and our willingness to build something better. Well, it looks like we will have work to do in 2019.

    Happy New Year… And thanks for such an excellent article…

  6. w.b. robertson says:

    I am bored by, and a bit sick of, the diatribes from the doom and gloom merchants. How would they have reacted in 1940? I thought this site was aimed at being pro-Indy, not Project Fear against the English Establishment and the army of Leavers. People go on about the threat to workers`s rights stemming from the EC fall out. A wee reminder …. back in the 1960s and early 70s I enjoyed six weeks holidays, a four-day working week, and a gold plated pension scheme. Provided not by the EC (we had not joined that cosy capitalist club then) but by a private British company aided and abetted by a powerful trade union. We should be able to create prosperity and abolish present day poverty in Scotland again. Meanwhile, everyone should have learned one lesson from this great EC debacle…never join a club where you have got to negotiate and pay to get out of.

  7. Iain McDonald says:

    No mention of the arch brexiteer ‘Corbyn’?

    Corbyn is as evasive, destructive and duplicitous on brexit as Gove. Fox, Davis, Johnson and Hoey.

    I have seething contempt for the tories, but I expect to feel that way about them, as do most Scots!

    But labour, the way they are treating the electorate is utterly contemptuous. The tale of securing a general election win and then getting a better deal??? How do they expect rate people to believe them? Imagine the shane of being a labour party member – or have once again gone into collecrive denial as rhetoric did over Iraq?

    Time to bring an end to his madness and for Scotland to stage an independence referendum irrespective of westminster’s Views!

    As for Nelson, a pompous arse with a fake accent promoted several grades above his intellect and ability!

    P.S. I 100% agree looking after EU citizens in Scotland is key! Key to our country being welcomed back into the EU fold of nations! The First Minister has already provided assurances on this.

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