I see two actual benefits of brexit, and both demonstrate why we should have stayed in the EU…
I think brexit is fundamentally disastrous and endlessly flawed, resting as it does on a costly bed of xenophobia, colonial nostalgia, and English exceptionalism. But there are two things I can genuinely see as positives:
Perhaps the most provocative issue brexit has resolved, is that Britain has immediately done away with the “tampon tax”; the VAT charge on period products, which essentially amounts to a tax on possessing a vagina. EU rules enforce this taxation, and so by leaving we can abolish it. Hurrah.
The other dubious EU rule set we are leaving with positive effect, is the Common Agricultural Policy. The set of rules governing agricultural subsidies in the EU, which are to say the least, not especially logical on all fronts, and profoundly benefit rich land owners, rather than always driving positive and sustainable agricultural practices, or better yet rewilding efforts alongside farm land.
The UK now intends to launch a new set of agricultural subside schemes which will encourage tree planting and other schemes to restore natural habitats, and reduce payments on the basis simply of how much land someone owns. Which sounds very positive; although time will tell how effectively a government that consistently undermines it’s environmental messaging will be.
Abolish the tampon tax, and reform agricultural subsides to make them more sustainable. This sounds really positive; a genuine upside to brexit.
Except… Imagine if instead of whining about EU policy for years as if it’s just imposed on us, we’d used our influence as a member and democratic partner to influence these kinds of changes not just in the UK, but across the entire EU — Pushing for more rapid change to something the EU is finally planning to enable through VAT reforms announced a couple of years ago, we could have ended the tampon tax a long time ago; if the political will existed to do it.
Brexiters act is if the EU is an unchangeable monolith. But look for instance at what was done not so long ago, in reforms to fisheries policies to make disposing of by-catch illegal, and thus help to stop some of the least sustainable fishing practices.
Imagine if instead of every European parliament election being a proxy referendum on our membership (leading us towards the actual referendum), we took our democratic responsibilities as part of a greater whole seriously, and voted for MEPs who would enact exactly these sorts of changes on our behalves — Years ago.
As a member, we could have worked with our friends and allies in the EU to bring about positive change like this. Ensuring in the process all farmers across the continent are operating more sustainably, and with the same costs and benefits, so no one is unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged, to the mutual benefit of all. Ensuring all women across an entire continent are also freed from the ridiculously sexist taxation of their bodily processes.
I hate brexit for stripping me of my European citizenship, and the rights and opportunities for cultural exchange that come with that. I’m sure brexit will have profound disadvantageous economic effects on the country too—In fact it has already, as the brexit process itself has already cost more than our forty-seven years long membership “cost” us — Of course the benefits of membership included substantial economic growth, direct investment into UK communities, and being part of a prosperous union of cultural and economic exchange to out great advantage. But I digress.
I hate that brexit represents the worst of our national character, cementing in Britain’s identity as xenophobic and nationalist. I hate that it represents us leaving our place in a more united world, stepping into individualism.
But perhaps worst of all is the sheer stupid hubris of the whole project. There is nothing we gain from duplicating services and systems at a national level that were once a burden shared across a continent. And there’s nothing we couldn’t have chosen to try and shape from within that we’re actually any freer to do now. It’s absolutely pointless.
So don’t pretend brexit is some kind of feminist or environmental project. If brexiters really cared about these issues, they could have resolved them decisively from within the EU, and to the benefit of the entire EU. Instead they wasting years, nee decades, of political bandwidth just having a moan and achieving nothing.
But you know, who wants mutual benefit and collaboration anyway? Everything is better when it’s Great British (stamped on a blue-ish passport that no longer gives you the right to work and live across an entire continent), or some such bollocks, huh?