This is not the future that I would have chosen for myself. Indeed, it is not the future that I did choose for myself in the referendum last Thursday. But we are where we are. And where we are is on the way out of the European Union. But this does not mean that we should just give up. Our task now is to fight.
There’s a lot of talk at the moment about how the referendum was only advisory. That is has been invalidated by the lies of the ‘leave’ campaign. That we could just ignore it. That we could call a general election and start afresh. That parliament could refuse to repeal the European Communities Act and so keep us in the EU.
This is all, of course, extremely tempting.
But if the referendum had gone the other way and Nigel Farage was starting to talk like this, I’d be furious. So I suspect that our only democratic course of action, much as it makes me feel inconsolably sad, is to continue down this path and say farewell to our friends in Brussels.
But it does not, however, mean that we have to give up.
If we give up, we are at the mercy of a re-energised Tory right. Which means deeper cuts to public spending, reduced protection for workers, the destruction of our public services and a kick in the teeth for anyone who didn’t have the good fortune to be born into a family of Eton-educated hedge-fund managers.
If we give up, we are saying to those who would have us close our borders that they have won. I do not for one moment believe that the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU are ignorant or xenophobic. But I am concerned that the small number of people who are both will see the referendum result as a vindication of their views.
If we give up, we are turning our backs on the world and on the very real challenges that we collectively face. While our leaders are arguing about what was written on Boris’s battle bus or how unpopular Jeremy Corbyn can get before Labour implodes, the very real problems that we face – such as social inequality, international terrorism and global climate change – are going unaddressed.
And so we must not give up.
We must show those who would destroy our society that we have emerged from this campaign bloody, but unbowed. We must show those who would have us build walls that we remain open, tolerant and welcoming to all. We must show the world that we stand tall and that we will continue to fulfil our global responsibilities.
Our task now is to fight. To fight for our voices to be heard. To fight to protect the values that we hold dear. To fight to ensure that out of the ashes of defeat rises a fair, just and tolerant society.
And we must start now.
The phrase ‘bloody, but unbowed’ is from the short poem Invictus, by William Earnest Henley. If you haven’t read it before, do read it now.