Always look on the bright side…

For those who are, like me, disappointed with the results of the referendum, let me offer some mitigating thoughts to try and cheer you up over the next few days!

  • As the old saying goes, “Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” But if you believe in it, then a referendum with a clear question and two choices is the purest form of democracy. In it, the British people voted across party lines for greater and more locally-accountable democracy. And huge numbers turned out to do it. Never in recent years has democracy been so much of a talking-point. Never has it had such a turnout.

  • I don’t believe that the clear tendency of older voters towards leaving can be put down purely to xenophobia. I think those of us old enough to remember life before the EU are less scared of being without it. For younger voters it’s been portrayed as a terrifying leap into the unknown.

  • Remember that the majority of our trade is not with the EU. Yes, the EU is a very big part of it, but it’s less than half, and that proportion has been falling since 1999. Remember too that the EU imposes extra friction on much of our current trade with countries outside its boundaries – the majority of our trade. We should do what we can to further reduce friction and tariffs on all our other trading partners in the next few years. It may not compensate for the new frictions imposed as we leave, but it should offset it. Also, a large proportion of our trade is with other non-EU European countries, which bodes well for us when we’re on the outside.

  • Remember that 90% of the world’s countries are not in the EU. Globally, we are rejoining the majority. I don’t think that is a retrograde step.

  • Thank God we didn’t join the Euro – look at what’s been happening to it. In fact, until the referendum came along, the poor prospects for the Euro economy were a regular feature of the news. There will be some benefits to decoupling ourselves from it a bit.

  • You shouldn’t assume that those who voted leave did so for the same reasons as the more extreme spokespeople, who are naturally beloved of the media. I have many friends who indicated they would vote that way and they are all nice, very intelligent, well-travelled, foreigner-loving people. Don’t believe the stereotypes. Britain hasn’t changed.

  • This was a vote for an issue, not for people. Not even for a political party. I don’t for a minute think Nigel Farage is going to be PM. In fact, I think this may rebound. If Labour manage to get an electable leader I think they’ll win the next general election as a result of this.

  • We soon won’t have to see those annoying cookie messages at the top of every web page!

You may not find all of these comforting. But I hope some of them will help a bit. 🙂 Enjoy the sunshine!

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© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser