Thursday, 8 June 2017

This baffling Brexit election

I just cast my vote in the 2017 general election. Brexit is supposed to be an important issue in this election.

Except it's not, because all the main parties have bent over backwards to tell everybody that they respect the will of the people* so much that none of them could possibly come out and say that Brexit was a terrible idea and therefore they're against it.** So I didn't get a direct vote against the most important, controversial political decision since 1945 (although I hope my tactical vote did its minuscule bit to sabotage the will of the designated people).

I'm not making any predictions, because I'm frankly baffled by politics at the moment. I'm baffled because, post-Brexit, I'm at a loss to know what the people who voted Leave are thinking. If I don't have a clue about what's going on inside their heads, I clearly haven't got a hope in hell of predicting how they'll vote. Even when Leavers have tried to explain to me why they've voted how they voted, I still don't get it.

Here's an example. I was talking to a builder who'd voted Leave today. He explained that he'd voted this way partly because many of the UK building supplies firms he used had been taken over by European companies. I didn't get the chance to ask any follow-up questions, so the whole thing left me completely confused. What did this have to do with the European Union? Nothing, as far as I could understand. There are plenty of well-known examples of British firms being taken over by foreign companies and not just European ones - think India's Tata Motors acquiring Jaguar Land Rover, or the Cadbury chocolate company being assimilated by US food giant Kraft.

Surely this would happen in or out of the EU, unless this country turned into some kind of closed economy which didn't allow foreign firms to buy UK-based ones? How do you get from "some UK firms have been taken over by European ones" to "therefore we must leave the EU"? Is it me? Am I missing some obvious connection here?

I can cope with disagreeing with people. What I find really unsettling is when I can't even begin to understand their thought processes. I don't just share the country with a bunch of people with very different opinions, but with people who seem to inhabit a divergent parallel reality, based on a set of assumptions which make zero sense to me. "United" doesn't seem to describe the state of this kingdom any more.

*"People" here = "37% of the eligible voting population."

**Although an overwhelming majority clearly thought it was a bad idea before the referendum.