My home town is what you might call a singular place. I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the UK quite like it. Geographically in England, but culturally, ethnically, spiritually, it’s a Celtic and a world city. Because of our port history, our roots extend to the four corners of the world. We are first and foremost Scousers, true internationalists, our identities not limited to the borders of one country.
Not surprisingly, then, Liverpool voted to remain in the EU. We also have a strong radical political tradition here. We have taken enough blows from successive governments, and we know when another one is on the horizon, and let’s call out Brexit for what it is: the brainchild of the right wing of the Tory Party. It is not an anti-establishment uprising. Rees-Mogg, Johnson, Farage, Banks? Anti-establishment? Do me a favour. Brexit is the long-term plan of a group of rich white men, for whom internationalism of the sort the EU embodies is anathema. It is part of a broader plan to reduce the UK to a deregulated, low wage, Western version of Singapore. It will make us all poorer, in many ways, and it will hit the poorest worst of all. Here in Liverpool, we’re not going to take that.
As I write, it looks like Theresa May has rebuffed Jeremy Corbyn’s proposals for some sort of compromise Brexit deal, as she was always going to, but here’s the thing. There is only one Brexit deal on offer. Any variants – Canada plus, Norway plus, customs union – are no more than aspirations, which will take the best part of a decade to sort out. They are all blind Brexits, by which we leave the EU, then discuss what we replace our membership with. Insanity, and yet our senior politicians continue to not engage with that reality, or to be honest with the voters. May’s deal, no deal, or a second referendum, that’s all there is. It’s really that simple. All we ask of those politicians is for them to cut out the b.s., put country before party, and level with us.
Liverpool has a long and healthy tradition of disrespect for authority. What’s going on in Westminster right now is doing nothing to diminish that tradition.
Peter is a member of European Movement.