EU don't have to say you love me...

Heading off to work this morning, I reflected on the fact that the world will end on Friday - not literally, obviously, or at least, not so as I know. What will happen is that the UK will leave the European Union, an organisation I have grown up with, studied in too much depth for sanity, learned to love as I came to understand its Genesis and gradual, tortured evolution and been so bored by that I have contemplated actions as extreme as actually doing some proper work while I was at university.

The rights and wrongs of the momentous decision to leave the EU have been argued over for three years but, the visceral hatred of a certain neighbour of mine who blithely dragged us all into this rabbit hole of despair because he wanted to 'bring his party together' notwithstanding, it doesn't need to be argued over any more. The simple fact is that the UK is leaving the EU on Friday night.  My reflection was simply how I would mark this moment.

"You stupid boy!"

This began as I passed the hamlet of that most hated of people. I wondered what his plans were for this looming day of infamy. As I pondered on his possible choices of clearing out the cupboard under the stairs, de-lousing the dog (I don't know but I bet he has one of those ridiculous little things which are useful only as amuse-bouches for passing birds of prey), buying another shepherd's hut to hide in, or possibly staring at the wall, rocking back and forth and mumbling something like "Oh God, what have I done, what have I done?!" - I hope it's this one obviously - I thought about my own plans.

Who do you think you are kidding...?

It is difficult to describe the torment of this moment, the sense of loss and despair, the terror at what is to come - in particular as our country is currently helmed by what has to be the biggest bunch of incompetents to hold high office since Harold of Wessex told his Thanes, "Don't worry lads, I can take this Camembert eater out with one eye shut."

The problem is that the EU is absolutely nothing like the demonic entity the leavers made it out to be. It is not a superstate, it is not an evil empire, it is not Hitler's Last Wish, it is not a plan by the French to destroy us, it is basically a very - very - boring association of sovereign countries seeking to work together to make things a bit better for us all.  It is as dull an outfit as your local council.


Think about it: your local council looks after your bins, schools, social care, planning, libraries and any number of fundamentally boring but very important services which go to make up our society. I would include roads in the list but I live in Oxfordshire where the approach to repairing roads is akin to making a lovely county-wide patchwork quilt. Drive along Oxfordshire's roads and you will get a very good idea about the coming decline across the whole country.

Chances are you only contact your council when you have a problem. If you need a service, if you have seen some fly-tipping, if you have a relative who needs additional support you contact the council. Otherwise, it largely carries on unacknowledged which, let's be honest, is a good thing because it means it is working well.

"Are you absolutely sure that's a good idea, sir?"

In almost exactly the same way, the EU carries on in the background with no one giving even a single hoot about it. You cross to France for a holiday: easy. You get sick in an EU country: cover in place - not extra cover that you pay for but the same healthcare you have at home, free. You buy some food and you know without even thinking about it that that food is of a sufficient standard just because it is, not because 'Jean-Claude Juncker' (to use a leaver stereotype) says it should be but because people have worked over decades together to ensure decent minimum standards and that those standards mean that a farmer in Powys is working to exactly the same level of quality as one in Lodz.

The EU is boring because it works and that makes it difficult to love, just like your local council. Frankly, we shouldn't love what is a very small, very dry bureaucracy. What we should have taken the time to appreciate before it was too late was the almost mystical idea that countries didn't have to spend centuries knocking lumps out of each other and inflicting hideous torments on each others' populations; they could just get along and occasionally argue about banana imports (not the old 'straight-bendy' nonsense the leavers lied about) or vehicle safety.

We are, of course, doomed

The EU is in fact irrelevant to the whole stupid Tory Brexit debacle. What is important is the idea of the EU. It is so much more than the endless streams of drivel people who know better have come out with about it. They had to make us hate the EU because the EU was a damn sight better than they were at running things.  The EU flag is not  the flag of a superstate, it is the flag of an idea and the leavers hate it for that reason: it speaks of ambition and hope.

So, how to mark this catastrophe for our country, a catastrophe which will make us poorer, weaker, less secure, with lower food standards, a disappearing agriculture sector and no say over what happens to crucial areas of our economy because we've left the negotiating table?

The EU continues, it is only us who are diminished. I can still believe in the ideal of the EU. I can still support the principle of working together and even look forward to the day when a Tory Prime Minister - and I would put the entire gold reserves of the European Central Bank on it being a Tory - tells us all in excited tones that we simply must join the EU as it will make us all so much better off. I can still wish the EU well as it wrestles with the many huge problems it faces such as the retreat of democracy and the rule of law in the east and the looming threat of the great disruptor, Russia.

The only emotion which remains is fury. Tory Brexit is so unbelievably stupid than all I can do is rage against the arrogance, the hubris and the lies and look forward to a day when the disaster is reversed and when the damage that will have been done to the UK and its economy can be reversed as much as possible.

And while I rage I shall enjoy a nice European lager, most likely several.


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