“Let’s restore robust, respectful and decent debate”
Anna Soubry, UK MP for Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire. Leader of The Independent Group for Change via Twitter 20th October 2019.
‘Love’ and ‘Brexit’.
Not two words we normally see juxtaposed.
There’s not a lot of love between the sides on the ongoing Brexit divide in the UK. Scenes in Parliament, which often has a somewhat puerile and combative atmosphere, indicate lack of respect for the other, if they hold different views. Those in positions of leadership, who really should know better, seem to disregard all arguments which don’t support their own views and desires, and to ride roughshod over valid concerns and disadvantages. Listening seems to be a lost art.
It’s a divisive, disruptive and distressing scenario. After 3 and a half years, there are still few real clues or, what would be far better, clear facts, about the consequences of Brexit. One side seems to care little for the financial costs which will affect and disadvantage the majority of the people, reduce their ability to earn, learn, travel, be supported when necessary. They don’t think an economic impact analysis is important, and only seem to want to power ahead for reasons of regaining some kind of ‘sovereignty’ which was never ceded in the first place. Yes, some EU rules might appear irksome, but most of us have benefited is some way from greater protection and improved rights, with freedoms which we now take for granted.
The other side, vilified as ‘remoaners’, bad losers and traitors, see the benefits of being part of the EU, valuing their European citizenship and the sense of unity and belonging. They recognize the peace which has held for so many years, the freedom of movement, the grants and funds from organizations such as Erasmus which may be at risk if a no-deal or hard deal Brexit occurs.
Everyone has their reasons, their right to hold their opinions and, yes, the Referendum in 2016 gave a (surprise) narrow margin of majority to the Leave camp. But since then, there has been so little real factual evidence of the benefits, and much of that which was claimed as beneficial has been proven to be false and partly fantasy. Emerging facts and predictions indicate a less than rosy picture for the majority of UK citizens, European residents of the UK , or UK residents of European states.
From a non-political perspective, it just seems a mess. A mess which is creating division and dissension, not just for politicians, but for the people. There is strong feeling on both sides, yet many have changed their views and are no longer in favour of Leave. Witness the gathering of large numbers in London for the People’s Vote contingency – Metropolitan police estimated around 1 million, German TV with some fancy technology for crowd measurement says 2.2 million – peaceful, allied to an aim and intention, a community in unity.
They do it for love of their country, their freedoms, their family, for themselves – because they do love in that way of greatness and determination and desire for justice – it’s Love on an altruistic plane, an Agape kind of Love – universal, collective and transcending circumstance. The people can express this in their multitudes.
Those politicians with a classical education would do well to look back and embrace the greater meanings of love beyond self-love – overweening ‘philautia’ – and display some humility, respect and decency.
Then maybe a robust debate, as Anna Soubry says, which allows genuine expressions in decent and respectful ways, so that resolutions are allowed to emerge can take place.
It needs tough Love and tolerance, not tantrums; vision and values not vitriol, and it is, with persistence and patience, possible.
Let this be the will of the people.