The referendum result is announced, Britain has voted to leave the European Union.
Voice of the North has no editorial column and imposes no set opinion beyond the views which only our writers and you, our readers, care to contribute.
What follows is a variety of opinions from our regular writers. YOU are invited to contribute and enlarge the ongoing debate that will surely follow the Leave v. Remain campaign
TOM GUTTERIDGE from ‘home’ in Hollywood
The selfishness of an elderly, angry, bigoted majority has destroyed the dreams of our nation’s youth. The End
KEITH HANN PR, author, blogger, Northumberland (replying to Tom Gutteridge)
Dear Tom I think that a forward-thinking expat like you is ideally placed to start work on a brilliant new construct called The American Union. This will be open to the USA and all the other countries of North, Central and South America that meet a few basic criteria, such as not being run by murderous generals with Zapata moustaches. The AU will have a common passport, with complete freedom of movement throughout. POTUS will be subordinate to a new President of America, probably an ex-president of somewhere like Costa Rica, who has been ejected from office by his local electorate. There will be a hugely expensive, directly elected American Parliament that won’t actually have any law-making powers, and will shuttle pointlessly between Chihuahua and Acapulco every few weeks, just to ramp up the cost. The US Congress will continue to exist but mainly to rubber-stamp an endless series of directives emanating from the AU Commission. The US dollar will be replaced with a shiny new currency called the Amro, which will sow civil unrest by economically crippling all the AU members in South America. The US armed forces will be absorbed into a new AU army, and the Supreme Court will have to bow to the rulings of a new American Court of Justice, to which each of the member states will be entitled to appoint one judge; the majority of whom will have no prior experience of judging appeals. As well as subordination to an alien legal system, the US will have to get used to a few other trivial changes in its way of life such as metrication.
Don’t forget the critical importance, when setting this thing up, of not telling anyone apart from a few of your closest elite pals what you are planning to achieve. Assure the mug voters that this us all about free trade and making them more prosperous. If they twig and demand the chance to vote on membership, either (a) ignore the results of an adverse vote, or (b) insist that they vote again until they come up with the right answer. And be sure to endear yourself to anyone who has doubts about the project by calling them old, stupid, thick, idiotic, racist, bigoted, or any combination of the above, and accuse them of threatening to bring war to the Americas and betraying their children’s future.
Right. You crack on with that and let us know how it goes, will you?
Best wishes, Keith
DAVID JEFFRIES our technical guru, Cumbria
(replying to Tom Gutteridge) Voiced like a true Expat! Social media today full of Left wing pantywaists whining and trying to get a second referendum; it’s the will of the people. Surprised as I am, one must accept it for what it is and move forward, stop whining and pontificating about what could or should have been and simply get on with it.
Interesting that the Northeast voted almost entirely “out” except for Newcastle. No correlation, do you suppose, between the vote and those ares of the country that have had a high proportion of EU subsidy, Teesside/Sunderland for example? Yet London, with probably the smallest (?) EU subsidy, votes Remain; I wonder what the primary Out driver was?
I’m trepidatious, somewhat concerned that the majority of this country’s population has never seen a war (given the stability the EU has brought since its in creation for that purpose post-WW2) and has little concept of Britain on its own, outside of the EU. My stepdaughter gave a great perspective: noting that while the young voted Remain by a large majority, the old voted Leave by an equally large majority, she said: “You’ll be dead and not have to live with the consequences of the thing you just voted for, whereas I’ll be living with it for ages.” She’s right and, yes, I’m concerned about our future.
I’m 50 on Monday, not quite dead but old enough to know that ‘the only constant is change’ and change was necessary.
LU RAHMAN group editor, Rapid Life Sciences, Chester
So we have the result. Whether you were in or out, given the news this morning that the pound has plummeted – its steepest fall since 1972 – and the Euro markets are flashing up a sea of red, what happens next is of huge interest not just in the UK but across the whole of Europe. For the short term at least we are still part of a bigger whole, evident by the fact that the decision has sent shock waves throughout the economies of many major European countries as well as our own.
Working on titles that have a global focus – European Pharmaceutical Manufacture, Medical Plastics News and Digital Health Age – it’s hard not to wonder if the result will have far-reaching ramifications for those sectors as well as many others. We’ve heard how an exit may affect imports, trade agreements and focusing on the life science sector itself, there has been comment that Brexit may impact on R&D, how we access skills and intellectual property rights. It has been said that an immediate impact will be felt on drug and device development and of course that does ring some alarm bells. With the North being hailed as the new hotspot for life science innovation and talent, it’s hard not feel concern at what lies ahead.
However, we are where we are. Is it time for that British stiff upper lip to kick in? In or out, and like it or not, that overused phrase ‘keep calm and carry on’ seems strangely apt. Time to concentrate on what we all do well, on the innovation we can offer on a global scale and the skills we can bring to the sectors we are working in. Brexit has been described as a ‘messy divorce’ but we have the opportunity to make it as painless as possible. Protecting the industries in which we work and continuing to promote the innovation within those markets is crucial to how this process plays out. The life science sector is very much a global business so it’s a business as normal attitude here despite the UK’s decision to part ways with the EU.
PETER MORTIMER writer/producer, Northumberland
The blackest UK day I can remember. In one fell swoop our country becomes meaner, narrower, more selfish and uglier. Demagogues, opportunists, sleight–of-hand merchants and shallow tub-thumpers rule the roost as we are dragged down to our basest instincts.
The EU is far from perfect and crying out for reform. But if leaving it is so good, how come not a single other nation of the other 27 has gone for it? Our only hope on Tyneside is for Scottish independence, move the border 50 miles south then we can then raise the sattire. We’ll probably lose to Iceland on Monday as well. Little England indeed . . . please wake me from this nightmare!
The ghoulish spectres of Gove, Farage and Johnson loom; I see a vision, a person small, red-faced, negative, spitting bile and anger. Good heavens, can that really be John Bull?
JACKIE KAINES journalist, blogger, Berwick-on-Tweed)
Listening to Radio 4 ‘Today’ this morning I was struck by the shock of aBrexit spokesperson (my own sense of rudderless uncertainty is underscoredby the fact that I can’t remember who it was!), who sounded as bemused by the result as I am. She seemed rather surprised, as if it had all been a jolly good game that she never really expected her team to win. My Facebook feed is full of fellow devastated Leave supporters calling it a victory for racist f-wits. Ultimately, disparaging over 50% of the population comes from the gut but is unhelpful. It’s a referendum that never should have
happened. In a sense we’ve all been duped and let down by squabbling politicians who haven’t done their job properly. One Leave supporter I know on Facebook exclaimed ‘Cameron’s resigned!’ as if this was somehow the most
surprising thing about the whole escapade. Duh!
Looking at voting demographics on The Guardian online: you’re more likely to have voted REmain if you’re better educated, richer and younger; and more likely to have voted Leave if you’re less well educated, poorer and older.
Overall, areas that are more racially diverse voted to remain.
Unsurprisingly Scotland and Northern Ireland, both recipients of plenty of EU money, voted to stay in the EU.
My eldest daughter (27 and a Londoner) says ‘I can’t believe it! I genuinely didn’t think it would happen.’ My youngest (14) says ‘ I can’t believe it. Can we move to France?’ and goes on to ask about our personal financial security and her education. Husband and I talked briefly about moving to
Edinburgh! Harking back to the piece I wrote on Voice of the North citing Voltaire’s Candide, I guess this is the moment to roll up our sleeves and ‘cultivate our garden’. Even if we don’t quite know what we’re growing and what will
become of it. This is history in the making.
ROGER WOOD journalist, retired, Spain
A great result bringing to an end 43 wasted years shackled to an ” organisation” that was never anything to do with Britain.
It was all based on a Heath lie. And De Gaulle was right: the Brits have never been Europeans and, despite the deranged efforts of the EU, never will be.
Thank you to the straight-talking and clear-thinking English people of the North and regions. You have poked the politicians and their London cronies in the eye with a blunt stick.
Now let’s have a general election. All those MPs who advocated Remain, kindly leave the stage. Next, free the Scots.
BERNARD TRAFFORD educator, writer, Northumberland
Sleepless, anxious and dismayed, I can’t believe that we have voted as a nation to turn our back on the European Union.
Everyone knows the EU has deep problems. Yet how can we really complain that it has resisted reform for so long when we have constantly bickered (certainly for the past quarter-century) about whether we should even be in it and when we have elected as our representatives in Europe UKIP MEPs who by their very nature have consistently declined to make a full or useful contribution. Why would Europe bend to accommodate such a half-hearted partner?
Please don’t think I despise all Brexiteers. Despite my conviction that we should have Remained, I have found it hard to counter the coherent arguments of that wise Times columnist Matt Ridley: similarly the humorous yet hard-hitting opinions of fellow VOTN blogger Keith Hann. But the numbers in the camp espoused by those deep thinkers have been swelled by opportunist politicians and protest voters anxious to take a swipe not so much at Europe as at Westminster. The fringes of England and Wales have said to EU and Westminster alike, to quote Shakespeare’s Mercutio, “A plague on both your houses!”
Some of the arguments (on both sides) were ludicrous, yet gained traction. A colleague overheard a conversation yesterday:
“So how did you vote?”
“I went Leave.”
“Leave? I thought you were for staying?”
“Aye, but they’re bringing in that sugar tax. I like me sugar. So I voted out.”
The people have spoken: and it’s hard finding oneself in the (large) minority. The victorious side has been making relatively magnanimous noises during the day, as winners must. I pray that changes in our relationship with Europe in the coming years will be founded in compassion, peace and brotherhood, in a shared humanity both with our European friends, neighbours and relatives and with those from further afield who seek our help and protection.
Let’s make sure that the nasty racist tones that were sounded too quickly and loudly are as rapidly quashed and silenced and that everything negotiated and achieved is about creating a better relationship with other nations and people whom we respect and admire. If we can manage that, we can salvage something from what I nonetheless see as a wreck.
I feel so many hopes and ideals destroyed by this vote. If the figures are right, older voters have sold out the young. My thirty-ish year-old daughters are astounded, outraged, even, to be dragged unwillingly out of union with Europe.
Ordinary people in Paris, Berlin or Rome right now cannot have much of an opinion of the Brits. They will easily assume that we just dislike them, seeing Little England [sic] building its walls against them.
We have much to do to convince the rest of Europe that we have voted out of political judgment rather than mere discontent and xenophobia, that we can dislike the continent’s bureaucratic structures while still valuing and respect its people.
I hope we can
DAVID BANKS editor, Voice of the North, N’umberland
8.42am: My daughter calls from Glastonbury to sling mud. “I just heard a woman in the tent next to mine moaning that ‘It’s all the fault of pensioners and pisspot northerners that we’re out of Europe. . .’,” says Natasha the Guardianista. “So is it true, dad, have we REALLY voted Leave?” I compound my confirmation (admitting in so doing that MY county, the retirees’ Godzone that is Northumberland, voted Leave 54% to 46%) by revealing that my wife, her mother, has stomped out of the house with the only black cloud in the county hovering over her saintly head and taken herself off for a temper-tantrum walk in the Cheviots. “Wow!” whistles my daughter. “She’s left you at last, thanks to that bloody Brexit vote!” A thin drizzle has begun to fall on her festival.
8.52am: Valerie calls, all melancholic, from the Manse across the road. “Decided yet where you’ll emigrate to?” she asks, reminding me of my recent dinner party declaration to quit the realm if we cut our ties with Europe. Nowhere close, I tell her, recalling that European borders will soon be closed to me along with reciprocal healthcare and benefits; that a Commonwealth-based bolt hole ceased to be an option decades ago; that my former billets in those ‘built-by-migrants’ mega-nations USA and Australia now drive approaching huddled masses back into the pounding waves; and that in breaking with Europe we have probably also consigned our domestic Union to history, given that Scotland will seek a second independence referendum, leaving us with what the Ukippers wanted all along: Little England. Besides, I say, I can’t afford the move, given the state of the pound and my portfolio this morning. She hangs up.
9.04am: Closing headlines of the Today programme shape the remains of my days. My wife has gone, the Prime Minister is going (to be replaced, presumably, by Brutus Boris and Cassius Gove?) and I have my lonely Brexit – sorry, breakfast – to prepare. I am a little Englander, alone and unloved, and only two nights a week at the Red Lion and an unending repeat prescription of medicinal pharmaceuticals stand between me and the cemetery. Those bloody Tories! To blasphemously misquote Pastor Niemöller, first they buggered the coal industry, then they buggered the EU; it’ll be the NHS for the chop next.