Sunday, 26 June 2016
Reacting to Brexit
Like a lot of my compatriots I am very disappointed by last Thursday's vote. The referendum was quite unnecessary. It was a Machiavellian tactic on the part of the Prime Minister that went disastrously wrong. A lot of people have already been hurt by Brexit and a very great many more will suffer in future including some of those who voted "Leave". It is a massive self-inflicted wound which will take years if not decades to heal.
But we are where we are. Our fellow citizens have voted to leave the EU and we have to live with that vote. Some have already said that they regret it. Very many more may do so very soon. The petition for another referendum stands at over 3 million and the number of signatories is increasing like the meter of a taxicab. Nevertheless, even though the referendum may not be binding in law any attempt by Parliament to ignore or reverse the result in the short term may make a very bad situation even worse.
However, that does not mean that we have to take the defeat lying down. Nothing is irreversible in politics and I think a new European consensus can be built up in time. It may take many years - possibly decades - but I am confident that we will rejoin the European project one day and when we do we shall be far more committed to it than ever we were between 1973 and the present.
Until that happens we do not have to abandon our internationalist or European ideals. Thursday's vote did not alter geography, repeal the laws of economics, blot out our history, change our language or rewrite our literature. We are and have been since the days of Julius Caesar if not earlier part of a common European culture. We may live on a small island but England is as much part of Europe as any of our continental neighbours.
Even though political and economic links may loosen for a season there is no reason why our cultural and personal links with our fellow European should weaken too. On the contrary we should strengthen them. Tomorrow I fly to Italy to watch some of the most talented young dancers from the Dutch National Ballet, La Scala Ballet, Vienna State Ballet and JAS Arts Ballet perform works by Marius Petipa, Ted Brandsen, Ernst Meisner and the talented young Italian dancer and choreographer Cristiano Principato. I am already a Friend of the Dutch National Ballet and an occasional visitor to Amsterdam. I shall be a frequent visitor to that city and also to the other cities in the remaining EU member where I have made friends and connections such as Budapest which I visited two months ago.
This is a very bad time but it is not the end of the world. We must stop moaning about it and start rebuilding now.