From top: Taoiseach Enda Kenny and then French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012
It is time for us now to re-examine the EU project, to question its direction and to remind it of its founding purpose and to forego the lap-dog like personas our leaders assume when they go to Europe.
Anne Marie McNally writes:
What a week it has been. It was a mass exodus. Britain exited Europe. David Cameron exited office. The Labour shadow cabinet exited in their droves and we exited the Euros followed swiftly by Iceland forcing England to say goodbye to all things European for the second time in a week…the drama.
Online and off the debate has raged following the seismic Brexit result. Those on the leave side both here and in Great Britain declared it a ‘working-class revolt’ and pointed to people who had voted leave as a direct rejection of the undemocratic nature of the EU project and the effects of the austerity the institutions have imposed on working and middle-class communities across Britain and Ireland.
Those on the Remain side argued that Britain had made the single biggest mistake in its European history; that leave voters had now opened the door to anti-immigrant rhetoric (or worse) and had essentially facilitated both racism and recession to take hold across Great Britain.
Both sides of the argument are not without merit and the realities we now find ourselves in are entirely uncharted waters with neither side being entirely sure how to sail through what are undoubtedly choppy currents.
The arguments on the Remain side cannot be underestimated. There is no way of avoiding the reality that jobs have been and will continue to be lost, the economy has and will suffer and sterling has and will continue to weaken.
Many on the leave side will say ‘great, the financial big-wigs in the City will suffer’ and that’s true (we’ve already seen the million/billionaires having share wealth decimated) but it’s worth remembering that vast amounts of inclusion projects, community development projects and youth services are funded directly via EU initiatives. These will cease.
Vulnerable communities will notice their absence in a far greater way than Michael O’Leary will notice a few million gone from his personal stash.
In addition to the pulling of direct EU funding from community initiatives, UK Government funding is also likely to reduce as a result of economic hardship – either real or imagined because make no mistake, when there is a plausible excuse to cut such initiatives they do.
We’ve seen it here – our community sector suffered disproportionate cuts at the first sign of recession back in 2008 and it hasn’t recovered since.
Those on the margins of society and those suffering in working class communities are the ones who bear the brunt of these cuts. I worry about a nose being cut off to spite a face in the Brexit result.
On the flip side there are the arguments, the non-racist or ignorant ones, for Leave.
The reality that the EU has ceased to be a democratic project and that the notion of solidarity – one of the pillars upon which the EU was established – has long since been abandoned.
People have watched as unelected technocrats have assumed dictator-like positions of power and have sat on high issuing instructions for the whipping of the ‘little people’ in their kingdoms.
Citizens of every EU country watched as the Greek crisis unfolded, and whether you agreed with the Greek’s handling of their own economy or not – you had to be a least slightly concerned by the lengths the EU institutions were prepared to go to smash democracy into the ground in that country and if the citizens had to go with it then so be it, it seemed.
Likewise with the current refugee crisis – only the Trump supporters among us will look at images of families being water cannoned or lined up behind barbed fences or fished from the seas without feeling utterly aghast at the lack of human solidarity on display from the EU institutions who should be leading by example.
There is a massive disconnect between citizens and the EU and never has that been more clearly stated than in the Leave result.
It is time for us now to re-examine the EU project, to question its direction and to remind it of its founding purpose, to forgo the lap-dog like personas our leaders assume when they go to Europe and to begin challenging the undemocratic processes that have created a Game of Thrones style hierarchy of countries – us wildlings are getting angry and the self-appointed leaders will pay the price of that anger.
But I fear we may suffer huge hardship to our ranks before those on high hear the message.
Anne Marie McNally is a founding member of the Social Democrats. Follow Anne Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally