The only clear thing among all the chaos and confusion, is that this country has probably never been more divided – politically and socially – and in my view, more in peril than at any other time in living memory.
The party system seems to have totally fractured. Not only has the Conservative parliamentary party become bitterly broken, the Labour party is also at war.
Last Friday morning I felt shellshocked and upset that we had left an institution I believed worked for the greater good, despite its many faults. Since then I have watched fascinated as the subsequent dramatic events unfolded.
The economic fallout came swiftly and is very worrying. The value of the pound has plummeted to a 31 year low, we are told that the UK’s credit rating has been downgraded from a triple A to a double A rating, we have dropped from being the fifth largest economy in the world to the sixth and the Bank of England is on standby to pump £250bn of public money into the markets to reduce the jitters currently reverberating across the globe from our EU exit.
More than £200bn has been wiped from the value of the UK stock market – equivalent to 24 years worth of EU contributions.
A general election is now looking possible in October, to tie in with the selection of a new prime minister.
Lies and exaggeration were undoubtedly the order of the day for both the Leave and Remain campaigns, but what is really galling to me is that the Leave movement won people over on false pretences. On the NHS and immigration in particular – two major planks of their operation, their claims have been found to be resoundingly untrue.
The Remain campaign focused too much on scaremongering and too little on how the EU helps us, which only riled people and forced them into entrenched positions , setting family member and friend against one another.
The conservative IN bandwagon, seemed to be blinkered on issues mainly linked to the economy and immigration, discounting all the positive things that the EU does for us, for example on employment, the environment and human rights for example. I believe that this was because these are the issues that are not valued by the right wing political elite that we currently have governing this country.
David Cameron’s supposedly one nation conservative cabinet, which campaigned WITH big business against a ban on bee killing pesticides, has already scrapped or weakened as many environmental protections as it can get away with. Planning regulations are now as relaxed and in favour of developers as they have been since the introduction of the Town and Country Planning Act in 1947.
With a future hardline right wing government on the cards, possibly led by the current favourite Boris Johnson, the likelihood of the current protections remaining for our seas, clean air, recycling, waste and for rare species, landscapes and plants – the Habitats Regulations – is remote.
Over the past few years the Conservative government has lobbied to scrap the EU Habitats Regulations – tough laws which protect some of our most precious landscapes here in East Devon, such as Woodbury Common, Aylesbeare Common, the Exe Estuary, as well as large swathes of Dartmoor.
However, despite the Habitats Regulations protecting our most rare and precious species such as the dartford warbler and the nightjar, our government announced the laws were “gold plated,” and lobbied the EU hard to get them scrapped.
The EU has so far held firm to these regulations, which also mean strong planning rules in these areas , as well as the surrounding countryside.
But I now can see on the horizon an inevitable and horrible ‘bonfire of red tape’ as a new right wing conservative leadership sets about dismantling anything that it views as in the way of “growth.”
So what is the future of East Devon now most of the country has voted to leave?
In my own council ward of Ottery, there must now be question marks for a controversial quarry proposed at Straitgate Farm, which was quietly looking less likely, due in part to the strict Habitats Regulations Protecting Woodbury Common, where Blackhill Quarry is based and where stone and gravel processing currently takes place. It was due to cease as of the end of this year because of these laws.
What will Brexit mean for East Devon’s two biggest industries? Agriculture and tourism? And what will it mean for education? What does it mean for our cash strapped NHS and our local very much at risk
What will it mean for the most vulnerable people in the constituency and those on low incomes?
Certainly, both agriculture and education are forced to rely on EU subsidies and grants.
Prolonged economic hardship will surely mean even deeper public spending cuts, yet deeper cuts to public services, which as always, will have the biggest effect on those people who have the least.
If a general election does take place in October, the future of our district – and the rest of the country – rests with those politicians examining thousands of pages of EU law and policy with a view to changing, scrapping or tightening it.
The future of our vulnerable residents also rests with MPs who have a duty to stand up for people who need help and support.
East Devon’s MP needs speak and vote in favour or against new laws and policies based on how they affect local people. That’s voting FOR the people of East Devon, not his party.
Each MP has a duty, in my view, to be a diligent scrutineer of this process.
What laws or policies do we want in East Devon that will benefit us, our communities, our wildlife and our businesses? Now is the time to consider this very carefully.
If democracy is working effectively people in East Devon should have the opportunity to influence such discussions through our MP.
And our MP has a responsibility to stand up for the people of East Devon and what they see as their priorities, especially at this very turbulent time.
The question has to be as ever. Is Mr Swire up to the job?