Last Friday (8th November 2019), I delivered a Cambridge Union address on (what else?) Brexit. My opening message was: “Instead of moaning about the state of British institutions, rejoice! For all its many ills, Brexit has reinvigorated British democracy.” Unlike most continental European parliaments, the House of Commons remains at the heart of decision making and, to boot, the British public are heavily engaged in a much needed re-assessment of Britain’s constitution and socio-economic model. The downside, of course, is the toxicity of the debate and the chasm between Remainers and Leavers.
Beginning with an historical explanation of the deeper causes of British euroscepticism (focusing on the tension between British and Continental versions of capitalism), I concluded hopefully by pointing out that the 12th December forthcoming election offers voters an opportunity to choose between two clear options – which go well beyond Brexit as they involve different visions for the UK: One that is distinctly neoliberal and dedicated to extending the model of a low-wage, low-productivity, light regulation Singapore-like country. And another vision that will (A) keep the UK in or very close to the EU while (b) leading Europe down the much needed path toward a genuine, well-funded, progressive Green New Deal.
This pre-election clash of visions offers Britons an opportunity to heal divisions via a thoughtful debate. As for my preferred election outcome, it could not be clearer: A Corbyn-led, Green New Deal-pursuing, Labour government!