26 May 2022

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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Brexit referendum day five years ago. Was that a pivotal day for Britain?
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Brexit referendum day five years ago. Was that a pivotal day for Britain?

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Is life actually long enough for us to appreciate major political change?

One of the problems of political development is that it actually takes generations to feed through the system and become meaningful.

All of us who went to school will remember history lessons – some of us enjoyed them and others, probably the majority, thought they were dull and boring and I include myself in that group. But at my present age, I regret that I did not take more notice of the history of our country and we all know that the attention we paid to our lessons at school was in direct relation to the brilliance or otherwise of the teachers who taught us. Middle aged men droning on about some political move or another was really not the sort of thing to attract the attention of youngsters!

But had we listened more, we would have perhaps learned to understand better what political change means in reality. When the UK joined the European Economic Community, some things changed overnight – like basically the ability to cross borders and forget about customs. Other things, most things, were set to change over a period of decades. In fact in the 48 years since the UK joined we have indeed gone through generations. Gosh – I even remember voting for it in the referendum we had to determine whether the country wanted to go in or not.

5 decades later, the EEC does not look anything like the animal we joined up with then – that is acknowledged by all but look just how these creeping changes have literally crept up on us – bit by bit. Probably that is exactly why the UK decided it was not for them after all. As before there was one immediate change – the sterling euro exchange rate went over night from 1.27 to 1.17 – just where it is today in fact.

Well now it is turning into reverse and whether you voted for it or not, we have now left and are embarking on a new political path for our country. I do not suppose for one second that the reverse process will take us back to where we were – we have all moved on world-wide and so our slow move back to independence will take us down new pathways where we will create new alliances and, hopefully, opportunities.

And all of this started up five years ago on 23rd June 2016 when the country voted in a surprising way in the referendum to decide whether to stay or to go and as we all know, the decision was to go. It took four and a half years to get where we are today and it is clear that there is a long and stony road ahead until things settle down again. Decades of accumulated feelings on all sides will now have to dissipate, probably as slowly as they developed in the first place.

But hey, in 50 years time our children in their history lessons will be looking back at this rather extraordinary chain of events – we are in – we are out – it will probably even look flippant to them, and they at least will have the benefit of hindsight to see whether it did us good or not. But knowing the British, we will come out of it stronger eventually. There are loads of people out there waiting to talk to us.

Adrian Leopard 23-06-21

Photo Brian McGowan

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