In the United Kingdom there is an awful lot of confusion and delusion over what Brexit is eventually going to mean. The country seems to be even more divided than before the referendum.
In this article I'm going to run through some of the distinct identifiable groups.
- Brexit utopians: People who, despite all of the available evidence, want to believe that post-Brexit Britain is going to be a land of milk and honey for all, and shriek "traitor", "Remoaner", "sore-loser" ... at anyone who dares think differently, or question what Theresa May and the three Brexiteers are actually up to.
- Brexit realists: People who accept that Brexit is going ahead, but understand that the UK is in a pathetically weak negotiating position due to the fact that any one of our 27 former European allies can torpedo any post-Brexit deal and that even if a deal is cobbled together, it's going to be negotiated by a callous and incompetent bunch of Tories. It doesn't take much grounding in reality to understand that the UK simply isn't going to get a better deal from the EU than the deal they had before.
- Brexit deniers: People (like Tony Blair) who seem to think that Brexit can somehow be undone before it is even started. As much as it's becoming clear that Brexit will end up being a disaster, especially for those who are least able to insulate themselves from the economic consequences, there's pretty much no way that the public can stop the Tories from pushing on with their longstanding dream of turning the UK into a right-wing tax haven. If a million plus people marching through London against the invasion and occupation of Iraq couldn't stop Blair from doing it anyway, it's hard to envisage what he thinks the public can do to stop the Tories from marching us on towards the cliff edge.
- Militant Brexiters: Not everyone in the Brexit enthusiast camp has the hyper-optimistic delusions of the Brexit utopians. Some people, like former the former DWP minister Iain Duncan Smith, accept that Brexit is going to have some very nasty consequences, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable in society, but they remain undeterred because they believe the economic and social suffering of others is a "price worth paying" for the opportunity for the Tory party to redesign the UK as some kind of hard-right authoritarian tax haven.
- The apathetic: 28% of registered voters didn't even bother to vote in the EU referendum. The ranks of the apathetic will likely have swelled significantly with people who have either been disengaged by bizarre platitudinous gibberish from the Tory government like "Brexit means Brexit" or "red, white and blue Brexit", the divisive, disrespectful and downright abusive tone of the ongoing Brexit debate, or by the seemingly endless quibbling over the specifics of what Brexit is actually going to look like.
- Brexit refugees: Believe it or not there are lots of people in the UK who don't look forward to being stripped of their European citizenship against their will, and lots of UK businesses who regard the abandonment of Single Market access as a major problem. There are several potential ways around these issues. If people have a parent from another EU member state, or an Irish or Italian grandparent, then they're entitled to inherit EU citizenship. An awful lot of businesses are looking to relocate part, or all, of their operations to countries that remain in the Single Market. Other people and businesses are looking at Scotland and the likelihood of a second independence referendum with the hope of keeping their EU citizenship, or at least access to the Single Market by living in, or relocating to a post-independence Scotland.
- Brexit sloganeers: There are some people who seem to contribute absolutely nothing to the debate other than the repetition of ridiculously over-simplistic slogans. "Brexit means Brexit" is the worst, but people can be found regurgitating all sorts of absolute drivel like "no deal is better than a bad deal". If the Tory government or the right-wing press say it, it seems there will always be people willing to mindlessly repeat it, no matter how devoid of meaning, or downright ridiculous it is.
- Brexit opportunists: You don't have to necessarily see Brexit as a great thing in order to see it as an opportunity. Scottish independence advocates can clearly see Brexit as an opportunity to call for a second independence referendum (justifiably in my opinion given that Scotland voted 62% - 38% to remain in the EU). There are individual opportunists too. Given the inevitable legal, economic and diplomatic complexity of Brexit, people are taking the opportunity to study subjects like international law, diplomatic studies or international trade in the expectation of well paid jobs sorting out the post-Brexit chaos.
- Resigned Brexiters: There seems to be a significant demographic who, despite originally not supporting Brexit, now think that since Brexit has been decided, it's best to "just get on with it". The problem for this group is that the process of quitting the European Union is just not as simple as saying "we quit". If the Tories submit the Article 50 notification in March as they say they're going to, the negotiation process is set to take another two years. The only way Brexit will be decided before March 2019 is if the Tories decide to go for "nuclear Brexit" when they realise that our 27 former EU allies aren't going to let them cherry-pick the best bits of EU membership, whilst scrapping all the bits they don't like.
- Brexit doom-mongers: There are some people (on both sides of the debate) who are looking forward to Brexit because they're keenly anticipating some kind of appalling Doomsday scenario. There are plenty of Brexiters who seem to imagine that the UK is so important that the EU will collapse into social and economic Armageddon as soon as we leave. But there are also Doomsday Remainers who are smugly looking forward to being proven right by the appalling social and economic devastation they predicted for post-Brexit Britain.
This list isn't intended to be exhaustive, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who have their own different take on Brexit. Even if you don't identify with any of the ten groups I've described here, I hope this article helped to show that the debate is a whole lot more complex than the over-simplistic binary polarisation between pro- and anti-Brexit that an awful lot of people tend to rely on.
Another Angry Voice is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.