The Pain of Brexit

Jullion Richards

It is not known if Boris Johnson's 'deal'—though it's not the final deal, just a withdrawal agreement and a political declaration—will get through the House of Commons. Meanwhile a short walk from the UK parliament and its feverish vote-trading, the Extinction Rebellion protest has been heroically reminding the people what really matters. Everybody has been looking for signs of bigger, slower processes at work below the surface of these spectacular events.

In 'The Right's New Jerusalem', Mike Wayne argues that the Conservative and Unionist Party is today not interested in conserving anything much, including the union of England, Scotland, North Ireland and Wales. Is the pain of Brexit the birth pangs of a new English state?

If so, the Scottish Nationalist Party will be one of the midwivos; but, after their conference this week. Gerry Hassan dismisses the SNP as "a government of Scotland's insider classes and new establishment". Despite the party's lead in the opinion polls and Nicola Sturgeon's bravado in calling for an independence referendum next year, Hassan argues they may lose power without a bolder social democratic vision.

Turning from the UK's angst about its identity, Timothy Less reminds people that the rupture of Brexit will affect lives far beyond its borders. The official policy of the European Union is "to support the gradual integration of the Western Balkan countries", but the UK's departure will help reduce enthusiasm for doing so to zero. There will be a cost to breaking this promise: expect further violent convulsions in the region and intervention by the US.

There is more positivity to be found in our writing on Extinction movement in the UK that has been as effective—and today's environmentalists stand a better chance of making a big difference, he thinks.

Lawyer Mike Schwarz examines that the police's extraordinary use of 'the full force of the law' against XR protestors and argues that it is in fact "the ultimate accolade and recognition of their effectiveness".

The professional activists who work for international non-governmental organisations, meanwhile, have much to learn from Greta Thunberg and her school-age peers. Stephen McCloskey breaks it down into four take-home lessons.

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Vol. 52, No. 21, Nov 24 - 30, 2019