Updated: Jun 15, 2020
By Oliver James Pike
The corona virus has had one silver lining. People stopped talking about Brexit. However, on getting to the otherside of the pandemic people will inevitably return to bickering about the EU. Beyond being mind numbingly annoying, we are told that this represents a severe divide in society that must be healed by any prospective leader. Questions such as “how will you heal a divided nation?” or “how will you bring everyone together again?” were continually asked of conservative leadership candidates and then later the party leaders in the 2019 general election. I don’t know if it is just me, but I don’t get it.
Sure, bringing people together sounds great. But can it be done and is it really necessary? Those who continue to attempt to subvert Brexit with non-consequential EU flag profile pictures and mysteriously funded social media campaigns appear to the rest of us to be the equivalent of the Japanese Troops stranded on a tropical Island who didn’t get the memo that the war was over. What is the point of trying to bring these childish elements of public life into the fold?
Of course, this goes beyond social media and we are continually told of the social cost of heated debates such as Brexit or Scottish Independence. Friendships severed, marriages destroyed, and families divided. The daily mail reported that 1.6 million relationships had been destroyed by Brexit. In reality they were destroyed by egotistical self-importance and unnecessary demonisation of anyone who may happen to disagree. I struggle to see why this is in any way the responsibility of politicians. If you are so childish and petty that a political disagreement marks the end of a relationship, then the blame lies with you. I have experienced this loss of friends yet ultimately, I realise I am better off without these people who are incapable of having a reasoned discussion with someone they disagree with. I have many friends who I disagree with ,who are up for political discussion, and can even enjoy what is usually a lighthearted exchange of perspectives. In many ways I prefer to go for a beer with people I disagree with because our differences are ripe territory for interesting talking points. You begin to find out that you share more in common than you first believed and that political compass tests and ideological badges are only relevant in a Politics degree classroom rather than real life. As a side note, here is a fun game to play with your friends. Most left-wing view and most right-wing view. You will be surprised of the results and realise that things aren’t black and white (or left and right).
Equally I have friends who would never agree with me and I would never agree with them. The way you get around this is to just not talk about it. Politics is one of thousands of potential topics. If you cant talk about Brexit without coming to blows, talk about your favourite rolling stones album instead. It’s not hard.
It is not the job of the government to ensure our personal relationships do not crumble as a result of politics. Furthermore the potential for such division to arise should also not be used to deny referendums or to reject the idea of society engaging in these political debates. Brexit is not to blame for the fraying relationships, individuals are and so long as we can maintain our own relationships we should refrain from caring about the implications of politics on other peoples social lives. If you can’t act like a grown up then go ahead and sever ties with those around you, but if like normal people you can agree to disagree or even enjoy your disagreement with a light discussion then more power to you.