Can you imagine what we could be achieving as a country if all the energy that is going into Brexit were going into solving the real pressing problems of Britain?
We might have the resources to think of new ways to tackle land reform and the housing crisis.
We might have that badly-needed cross-party panel pouring all their drive and enthusiasm into securing the long-term future of the NHS.
The government might be able to work on eliminating modern slavery. It could overhaul the prison system so that we do not, as a society, allow people to live in utter squalor when they need support to reintegrate into society.
Our education system might be receiving added attention – making conditions better for teachers, so that talented people can go into and stay in teaching. Perhaps we might think of innovative ways to prepare our children for the future, teaching them skills that will enable them to take advantage of the ongoing digital transformation in our society. And we might be discussing ways to enable adults to learn these new skills too, creating a norm of life-long learning that would uplift everyone in Britain.
We could consult on an immigration system that made sense for everyone. Where we apply the rules we need (that were already available to us as EU members), but where common sense prevails. A system that does not boast about creating a ‘hostile environment’, but that is humane and fair. A system based on facts, not ideology, a system that would not break up families and send people away when they are making a positive contribution to Britain.
We could invest in solutions to provide emergency shelters for the homeless and people fleeing domestic abuse. As a society, we must be measured by how we treat those most vulnerable, and at the moment we are failing badly, held hostage by internal strife in the Tory party and a lame opposition.
We might think of new ways to ensure the most vulnerable people in our society can regain a sense of security. Let’s put our minds together and see whether universal basic income could work. Or another system. A way to ensure that people do not need to live day to day or week to week. Where they know they will have a roof over their heads and food on the table the next month and the next.
On the important global issues, we could work in tandem with our European allies in doing good in the world. We could lead and set the European agenda on trade, climate change and fighting poverty. We could continue to punch above our weight in our other global relationships, using our leading position in Europe to magnify our own levels of influence. Perhaps we could help to tackle the crises in places like Syria and Myanmar. We would work with our allies to ensure our citizens remain safe from threats.
All those EU nationals that have left us and are leaving us would stay here, creating jobs, paying taxes, looking after our patients, picking our fruit, making beautiful art, feeding us delicious food, mixing up cocktails, raising their families in our midst. New relationships, whether at work or at home, would be formed between Brits and EU citizens, enriching all our lives.
Instead — a government and civil service consumed by just one task. One task with only downsides. One task that will make us weaker, meaner and poorer. One task that actually risks the integrity of the United Kingdom. One task that will strip every British man, woman and child of hard-won rights. One task that only serves the ultra-rich and will deepen the existing inequality in our society. One task that will damage us in the short and long term.
In moments of intense despair at the current state of affairs, I let that alternative vision of the future spur me on. It is what fuels my ongoing need to act against Brexit – to talk openly to people, especially Leave voters, to write to my MP, to donate to campaigns when I can, to oppose racism and xenophobia, to resist the government’s attempts to divide us, to write this blog. I will continue to resist Brexit with every fibre of my being. I am unsure of success, but I continue because it matters, because nothing less than our country’s future is at stake. And I must believe that the innate goodness, creativity and openness of Britain will eventually prevail.