Sacred Union

A poem written some time ago about Brexit with a longish introduction. It will be unpopular, I presume, with Brexiteers, and will probably change no-one’s mind on this divisive issue. But it might put some facts on the table for discussion. Age, sometimes, has its advantages, especially when it has allowed one to live through what others now call history. Having experienced the first referendum in 1975, it has been clear ever since that minorities on the left and right of the political spectrum have never agreed with the result and have sought to undermine the population’s view of the European Union, as it is now named. The idea that the EEC was not a political construct, just an economic one, would be risible if it was not so serious. I was involved in debates about the ‘third way’ between the US and Soviet Empires way back then. I also remember queuing up to catch ferries and trying to run a business before the Single Market came into place. Those who wish to return to those “good old days” have short, warped or no memories of those events.

Sacred Union

Remember, remember when we played no part
When the ‘continent’ was a far-off place
And ‘continentals’ were a different race
Our bureaucracy a worn out, wartime relic
Crossing the channel a curious challenge
Ridiculous regulations – red tape – abounded
Taxation tables all reason confounded

We became members of a sacred union
That sought to stop stupidity and strife
Established to protect a way of life
Wherein we would share the good times and bad
With those that dwelled across the water
Our nations had chosen an uncharted course
On the post-war stage to become the third force

By referendum we decided to remain
Nullifying negative nationalism
Rallying to the rigour of rationalism
Recognising our errors and economic weakness
Accepting old rivals could compromise
Working together we would all be stronger
In imperious isolation we would linger no longer

Our leaders soon sought a single market
Barriers to trade should be reduced
Selling freely whatever we produced
Creating ‘a level playing field’
Expected to be an everlasting state
If rules there must be, there should be one set
Protection prohibited if our conditions met

Our government also encouraged enlargement
Dilution would come from the east
As democracy destroyed the socialist beast
Choosing to ignore that international trade
Would include not just product but people
Unforeseen those foreign faces
Who fill low-paid jobs and vacant spaces

Millions travelled to and from the union
Our civil servants now served abroad
Part of the hated, unelected horde
At home, some spread fear of being submerged
Our national identity would be lost
Couples from different nations provided
Children whose loyalties were deeply divided

The other side’s grass then grew greener
As most who had experienced the history had died
The time had come to again decide
Whether to leave what we had helped develop
And break the links that had begun to bind
Alone our race would regain its purity
Spurious sovereignty should bring us security

It’s so easy to blame filthy foreigners
Logical consequences can be brushed aside
In an anti-immigration tide
And the concerns of an unknown minority
Whose allegiance is to this sacred union
Would be judged by those unaffected
Preoccupations of our partners disrespected

As we strive to forecast a final verdict
No-one can know how the process will end
Though it’s certain the discussions will surely offend
Those that some regard as their family
Who are expected to listen to our point of view
How strange this desire to grow apart
A decision of neither the head nor heart