There is no single issue on the UK government’s agenda that compares in size and scope to its separation from the European Union. When Theresa May called the election, I was certain that the compressed election cycle would be subsumed by the discussion of how to negotiate the divorce proceedings and where to bring the nation thereafter. This was not the case.
In a nation whose fate is driven primarily by the intricacies of a single issue, there was almost no discussion of it at all.
And let’s not forget exactly how much there was to talk about with respect to Brexit. Not only does the nation have to determine how it is going to negotiate divorce payments, but the nation is staring down the barrel of decades of rules and regulations restructuring. Decades of laws covering everything from human rights to trade to immigration. Navigating this issue will consume the lives of countless bureaucrats and academics for years to come. There was enough to talk about to cover multiple election cycles, yet it didn’t have enough staying power for a couple of months.
Diagnosing this mismatch is a difficult task. Some have said the issue was simply too complicated. There was just too much to it for casual observers to latch onto the issue. How could such a massive and confusing issue capture the interests of working people? Can we even expect it to?
It seems more likely that the politicians simply didn’t want to discuss the issue. I think the reason why this is so is twofold. First, as should be clear by now, the issue is really complicated. It’s no secret that politicians don’t like complicated issues. They want to sell soundbites, which is not easy to do with Brexit.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, they don’t really know what to do. The political turmoil that ensued during and has endured since the original referendum has resulted in the highest-level politicians dealing with issues spell trouble no matter what they do. Other than the fact that it’s a political risk to make grandiose commitments, it seems to be a task that is more intimidating than expected.
Immediately after the exit poll results were delivered, experts began discussing whether the nation would have to resort to another general election later in the year. And so began what could very well be another iteration of what we witnessed just a month ago.