August 27, 2019 4.58 pm This story is over 51 months old

Barry Turner: Welcome to our (post Brexit) world

Everyone should get a grip on reality

For what seems an eternity we have been bombarded, battered and saturated with the Brexit story. We can be assured that even come ‘the glorious day’ that this will not stop, the remainers, approximately 50% of the country will continue the campaign, the victorious Brexiteers will find other gripes about Europe and how unfair they are to us for decades to come.

The results of the 2016 referendum have divided the country even more effectively than the pre-Brexit wealth gap that was already dividing the country as out of control greed and ever increasing debt was encouraged by those set to gain by it. This has not gone away either, already the government in its desire to curry favour is spending money on everything in sight. They perhaps need reminding that there is no such thing as a magic money tree as many within the current governing party used to recite to us as an excuse for austerity.

In the great scheme of things, Brexit is no big deal. Millions of people all over the world have real problems, Yemen, Syria, Gaza, The West Bank, Burma, Kashmir, Uigers and persecuted minorities and chronically poor people in a hundred other countries including European countries. Russia flexes its autocratic muscles and interferes in the democratic processes of our allies and China with its gigantic economy and similarly gigantic national debt threaten instability far, far greater than Brexit will.

Everyone should get a grip on reality. The EU and the UK will continue to thrive and trade with each other and the rest of the world. Yes there will be some disruption and even a minor and short lived recession, but the sky is not going to fall down. Market economics will keep the trade flowing and even the most hard nosed ideologies of belligerent little Englanders and fanatical Eurofederalists will not stop that. We will continue to eat, live in comfortable homes, take vacations and waste resources polluting the planet and altering the climate.

So enough already! No more delays, no more ‘parliamentary devices’, no more rebellions on the back benches — we need to get back to dealing with real problems. There is life after Brexit for us and our European neighbours. It is not so clear that there will be much of a life if we are waist deep in plastic waste, flood water or alternatively constant out of control wildfires. Striking trade deals is ever so much more easy than cleaning up the mess we are making of the world we live in, so let’s redirect our energies to where they are needed.

By the end of this century the population of this planet will be 11.5 billion people. This translates into one million new people on planet Earth every week. All of them needing food, shelter, jobs an infrastructure and a future. Do the arithmetic — that’s a lot of major cities built from a lot of concrete, it’s a lot more farmland, roads, power stations and money. Deny them that and there will be trouble on a scale never before seen in this world.

If we do not sort out the world’s economy and environment in the next few years there will be a mass migration from Africa to Europe on a massive scale as its population explodes. In or out of the EU, this is inevitable and the UK will have to be a partner with all our European neighbours in finding solutions to it. In the western hemisphere there will be a similar migration northwards and no wall is going to stop it any more than the Mediterranean or the English Channel will over here.

For those who still think that the solution is to enter splendid isolation — that’s no longer an option. We may well be outside the European Union in the next couple of months, but we will not be out of Europe or the rest of the world. We will have “got our country back” as some would triumphantly declare, but it will still be a tenant in a neighbourhood, not a private island in a tranquil sea.

Welcome to the planet Earth folks!

Barry Turner is a Senior Lecturer in War Reporting and Human Rights and a member of the Royal United Services Institute.