Dave (the editor)
We’d like to re-state that as anarchists, our position on Brexit is neither one of Leave nor Remain. We see both options as expressions of a split in the elites who claim to rule over us, on the issue of the future direction that the UK should take. For the record, out of the ever growing amount we’re writing about Brexit, this piece probably best sums up our position: Brexit…some clarifications…
We’re grassroots activists. The remit we’ve set ourselves is supporting neighbourhood level projects and initiatives that play a role in empowering people to collectively start taking back control of their communities. We support these projects because they play a vital role in building neighbourhood solidarity and cohesion. As we move further into an unpredictable and volatile 2019 with less than two weeks to 11pm on Friday March 29th when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, and little meaningful clue as to what form Brexit will take, we’re acutely aware of the anxiety this is causing in our communities.
That’s anxiety across the board. There are the numerous EU citizens trying to find out what their status will be post Brexit and doing what they can battling government bureaucracy and iffy IT to try and secure it. There are many people worried about how the chaotic Brexit process will impact their jobs and income. Then there are the many Leave voters we personally know who voted in good faith, who feel that the Brexit they voted for is being betrayed and who are losing what trust they may have had in the democratic process. All of this has created a climate of anxiety, fear and division.
A lot has been said and written about Leave voters and why they voted the way they did. Some of it has been thoughtful, considered and nuanced. Sadly, a fair chunk of what has been said and written has slipped into crude stereotyping and abuse. Living and operating in Essex beyond the M25 and away from the bubble of the metropolitan elite, we know a lot of Leave voters. Not a single one fits the crude stereotypes that are being circulated.
Sure, we know there’s an element of Leavers who are being courted by the far right and the antics of some of the Brexit supporting yellow vest protesters in Westminster are a manifestation of this. Also, we’re aware of the amplification of far right Brexit sentiment on social media. Social media can and is being used to amplify certain views which results in a distorted picture of what most Leave voters actually think. All we’re asking is that those Remainers and anti-fascists who are reacting to these stereotypes take a step back, make the effort to connect with a wider range of Leave voters and come up with a more nuanced response. This was how a group of working class activists up in Hull went about opening up a dialogue with some of the pro Brexit yellow vests in their city: Not All Yellow Vests Are Pests.
Whichever way Brexit plays out, we’re heading for troubled times. Beyond the M25, away from the liberal metropolitan bubble, we’re at the sharp end of the divisions between Leavers and Remainers. When times get tougher than they are now, we don’t need self-righteous Remainers playing the blame game and holding Leave voters accountable for any post Brexit disruption that will occur. This may make an element of Remainers and some anti-fascists feel good but for those of us active at the grassroots in predominantly Leave areas, it makes our task of building neighbourhood solidarity and fending off the far right even harder than it already is.
Brexit is going to happen, it’s just a question of when and in what form. The fact that we’re less than two weeks away from the scheduled departure day of Friday 29th March, without a clue as to how this is going to play out, speaks volumes about the incompetence of government, the ‘opposition’ and Parliament. Paradoxically, that’s something which is beginning to draw Leavers and Remainers together – the realisation that the political classes who presume to rule over us are incompetent, self serving charlatans. That’s something we’ve been doing our level best to use in a bid to show the fragility of the system and raise the possibility that it could and should be swept away.
We’ll have a better chance of achieving that if we can overcome the divisions in our communities. This is one of the many pieces we’ve written about neighbourhood solidarity: Neighbourhood solidarity – why we have to stand together. All we ask is for a toning down of the rhetoric from some of the Remainers and anti-fascists that will only antagonise Leave voters and push them into the arms of the right. If that happens, our communities will be divided and we’ll all be screwed.