By the time you read this, the UK will have formally left the EU. There are no real words to describe the magnitude of this historic mistake and the range of feelings we are all going through. Sandra Khadhouri, Campaigner and Communicator and L4E Committee Member, searches for hope.
If any of you Londoners are like me, your moods have been alternating wildly since the December election; the sense of shock that Brexit is actually happening and a UK Government would so recklessly undermine stability, jeopardise the union and hurt millions of people. Feelings of sadness and anger in equal measure. Incomprehension as to how this ever happened. A strange sense of relief that the fight is over, and no more running on empty. Perhaps, like me, you have also felt a strong desire to pack your bags and run for the European hills.
One source of hope was at a grassroots conference on 25 January in Westminster. Some 500 pro-EU activists from 180 groups gathered to discuss next steps for the campaign. As I chaired a session, I looked out at rows of faces with intense expressions, searching for answers and leadership. People were really engaged, determined to learn lessons, say their piece, ask questions, find a way through.
There was real consensus to hold the government to account on Brexit, lobby to stay close to Europe, insist on truth and facts, stand up for true democracy, empower local communities and protect our institutions. It wasn’t clear exactly how we would organise – there is much brainstorming still to do. But there will be ways forward, and we will find them.
After all, the conference heard, there are advantages to our situation - no more ‘thwarted Brexit’ narratives, and contrived anger at Remoaners and snowflakes blocking the nationalist dream. So now, perhaps, media and politicians can focus on what Brexit REALLY means, compare the old and new EU arrangements, the promises and reality, the benefits and losses. And expose the concrete impacts of Brexit on local communities, economies and business. ‘Project Fear’ is now irrelevant. If we can only ensure the reality is brought to light, and not masked, as the Government throws money around and launches flashy projects. Time for the truth and for hard lessons to be learnt.
Something tells me these conference participants, and the millions they represent, are not going anywhere. This is too big. Something fundamental has been stolen from them and they will neither forgive nor forget. So we bide our time and regroup, rebuild our personal lives and our individual and collective strength, come together in new ways, bringing in fresh blood and ideas as the Brexit lies take shape and form. And when the time is right, and the public begins to see the truth, perhaps then we will be able to start building a better Britain and a better Europe.
Take care of yourselves, Londoners. We need you strong, healthy and happy, so you are one day ready to fight again, for our rightful place at the heart of Europe.
Campaigner and Communicator
London4Europe blogs are edited by Nick Hopkinson, Vice-Chair. Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe.