Two steps forward (one step back?)

I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member

Well. It’s something I suppose. Teresa May appears to have moved us a step closer to getting a deal on Thatwhichmustnotbenamed (cf: last week’s blog).

By now I’m a bit confused about all the various amendments and codicils that have been voted for and against in Parliament. I can’t really work out who wanted what and who voted against it nor, if I’m honest, why.

I am, however, thanks to the good old BBC, slightly better informed about the journey we took to get to this sorry state. The programme Inside Europe: 10 Years of Turmoil, the first episode of which aired on Monday evening, had something for everyone, regardless of which side of the referendum you voted. It’s available here on BBC iplayer and is well worth a watch, if you can cope with wanting to shout at the TV several times throughout it.

What was fascinating was the dawning realisation that Thatwhichshallnotbenamed hasn’t really been on the cards since June 2016; rather it started long, long before that.

If you voted Leave then the programme served to confirm your suspicions that Europe probably had it in for us from the start and that our continued membership would only increase Europe’s threat to British sovereignty.

If you were a Remainer, the programme simply showed how internal party politics were taking over the Tory party, and that it was this that was causing the damage, rather than our relationships – trading and political – with those across the channel.

Of course, there’s always the caveat with programmes such as these that they are being made after the fact and human memories and recollections can prove unreliable on occasions.

My guess is that David Cameron (who doesn’t appear in the programme) never expected to win the 2015 election with a thumping majority, so the promise of the referendum was something that he probably expected the Liberal Democrats (I know it seems forever ago, but they were in the coalition government don’t forget) to veto. He became a victim of his own victory and cemented his legacy as the worst prime minister of modern times. Maybe that’s too harsh. Maybe another leader would have handled it all better. And maybe not.

Whatever might have happened, we are now lumbered with the consequences of decisions that were made way above our paygrades by people whose agenda were very different to most of us on the ground. We are the ones who have to deal with the fallout.



About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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