Inaya Folarin Iman: Is Brexit over? No, it's only just begun
'The power is in our hands and we should embrace the possibilities that lie with it'
Is Brexit over? No, it’s only just begun.The Guardian reports that thousands of British students doing courses in the EU are in limbo due to Brexit-caused visa obstacles.
Wetherspoon is low on some beers as Brexit hampers deliveries. Staff shortages. Bureaucracy. Delays. Queues. Diplomatic spats.
Empty shelves.This has become the image of Brexit more than a year on. We were warned, we're told. This is all because of Brexit! We told you so.Well, some of those issues are COVID-related not necessarily caused by Brexit.
But, I agree, these things are potentially big problems, if left unchecked. But, there’s a few key things seemingly missing from the conversation. Democracy and sovereignty. It’s important to raise awareness of the Brexit-enabled issues that have arisen, it would be wrong to shy away from them as they, of course, need to be addressed.
But, one of the biggest and most transformative gains of Brexit was greater power to make decisions over the future of our country and to act upon them in a democratic and dynamic way.
If there are staff shortages in roles that people from the EU would likely have filled before Brexit (and don’t get me wrong, we should very grateful to anyone who contributes to our society), but also why don’t we ask whether it’s sustainable to have an economic model that relies on continually bringing in people from other countries, potentially driving down wages and reducing training opportunities for people here already?
If there are shortages of certain supplies, could we improve production of items and industry at home? If there is greater bureaucracy, what red tape could we cut that also secures good worker’s protections? With regards to our standing in the world, what exactly do we want it to be and how do we achieve that?
The power is in our hands and we should embrace the possibilities that lie with it. Brexit meant holding politicians at home to account as they were no longer able to contract power out to larger and more unaccountable bodies. For too many Conservative party figures, their 2019 election mantra “get Brexit done” sometimes left like it meant “get Brexit over and done with”.
But, there is still so much more to do and we must hold their feet to the fire. Whether that's dealing with the challenges of Brexit but also rising to the possibility of it. To improve freedom of speech. Unleash local democracy and local populism. Provide greater opportunities for civic and democratic participation. Restore the purpose of and trust in our institutions.
Address regional inequality, the housing crisis and stagnant social mobility. To forge a more unifying and substantive British identity. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, Is Brexit over? No, it’s only just begun.