Sunday 4 December could likely mark the beginning of the end of the EU, again. Two events occur on this day: the first is a referendum in Italy and the second is the re-run of elections in Austria. Unlike the Brexit vote, the opinion polls are already showing that the anti-EU option is likely to win in both votes.
In Italy, a referendum on centralising political power in order to make change easier to implement is looking very likely to return a no result. If this happens, the Prime Minister has promised to do a David Cameron and resign. It could also lead to the collapse or bailout of the Italian banking system (already struggling with high levels of bad debt). Such a collapse could in turn force Italy out of the Euro or even destroy the Euro.
In Austria, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party is leading (albeit only just) in the opinion polls and could become the President of Austria. His campaign is to put Austria first and end the “welcoming culture” towards immigration.
Somehow, Brexit might not be the worst thing to happen to the EU project in 2016.
Yesterday was a bit grim on Facebook, I will include my own response here, tired and frustrated as it was. One half of the country wailing and gnashing their teeth through a whole variety of ways: insults, calls for another referendum, prophecies of doom; declaring a burning desire for independence from the UK or leaving for other countries. And on the other side, sarcastic digs as life went on, frustration at being so maligned for voting leave and anger at the calls for another referendum (please, anything but to go through the last month again!).
In the midst of all this rubbish, between posts of anger and grief and hate, there were a few posts of great comfort and encouragement and peace. They were the ones which quoted from the Bible. Without fail, the person quoting was always so much more gracious and understanding of the division the referendum has caused. They were far more likely to expresses forgiveness and compassion rather than insults and anger.
These Christians, of which to my shame I cannot count myself, had a vastly different perspective on the shock event. The same human response was there: sadness, joy, hurt and surprise, but these were muted, in a healthy way, not given to extremes, not likely to be dominating in the person's mind.
Pausing only to fire the Polish nanny and sack the Spanish gardener, I left my East London mansion and headed with all speed to the local high street. The Bentley roared through the streets of London passing through all the red lights, because what do experts know about road safety? As I got out the illegally parked car, I shook Nigel Farage's hand, as Gove and Johnson patted my back, and laughed as he pinned a badge on my yak's wool blazer. The badge said: “Vote Leave because You're Racist”. For good measure, I punched a foreigner in the face and told her to leave the country. Turns out, it was Nigel's wife. #Awkward.
Hello, my name is Ben and I'm voting Leave because I believe Britain, and possibly the world, will be better for it. Those of you blinded by intellectual arrogance and class snobbery may be forgiven for thinking that the above paragraph is somewhat true. Such is the level that the debate has been conducted at that one can hardly express an opinion without being dismissed as an idiot. Well then, here are my idiotic words on why I finally decided to vote leave. Read them, if you want. Agree, disagree, vote, don't vote, you're a strong independent human being and you don't need me to tell you what to do.
My first reason for voting leave is that most of the arguments for Remain rest on the two great false gods of the Western world: money and fear. If we leave, predictions of doom and poverty abound. The economists and politicians of this age line up and each paint a more depressing picture than the last.
A few years ago and I would have told you that David Cameron's manifesto pledge for an EU referendum was long overdue and one of the few reasons I respected the man. In a wilder moment, I may even have muttered something about it being undemocratic not to have a referendum.
And like the proverbial fable, I now have my wish and its nothing like what was promised. As Spiderman's uncle wisely said: “with great power comes great responsibility” and with the power of the referendum comes the responsibility of making the best possible decision. What appeared like a glittering unicorn of freedom is the glitter glue covered rhino of responsibility.
This is problematic, annoyingly so. As you may have picked up, opinions come naturally and easily to me. Even if I'm really struggling to make up my mind, I can always rely on my natural perversity and strongly disagree with the prevailing opinion.