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by Duncan Dwinell

Duncan Dwinell


Darkness at the End of the Tunnel as Brexit Approaches
In the coming weeks and months, anger, condemnation, accusations and claims of betrayal will become increasingly common in the discourse of politics in the ‘Untied Kingdom’. This will not be the language of mediation, empathy and mutual respect. The virtues that spring from love, listening and discernment will be challenged. Only by upholding a commitment to and exemplifying our testimonies can we contribute to a better future.
The current impasse has roots deeply laid in history, tangled by misunderstanding and ignorance. More recently, facts and patient discussion have succumbed to misrepresentation, exaggeration and fear mongering. The ‘democratic process’ has moved away from compromise to binary entrenchment. The political process of ‘winner takes all’ in these conditions can be nothing but divisive.
In 2016 the Government of the day offered a too simple choice: Remain or Leave. The latter proved more popular. ‘Leave’ has proven to be undeliverable in any acceptable form. The children of ‘Leave’ cry, ‘But you promised!’ and feel cheated. A more careful understanding of the vote would be that Britain voted for ‘half a Brexit’; this is how it would have been described as an opinion poll or ‘straw vote’.
Given the embedded guarantee in the Good Friday Agreement of an open Irish border, the fundamental ingredient of ‘Leave’, to have sovereign control of our trade and immigration, was contradicted from the start. ‘Leave’ has never been a viable, practicable and/or legal option. Another way is necessary.
The Parliamentary processes we have witnessed have failed to convince us that authority is sufficient to lead us through. Various dramatis personae are ‘blamed’ for disobeying, stretching and even enforcing rules and established practices. Outside Parliament businesses and vulnerable people are suffering from indecision and insecurity.
I have sketched a nasty, brutish and unfortunately long-lasting situation. What we are witnessing is the least bloody political revolution in history, taking place in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ (not forgetting Jo Cox, MP). There is as little glory or virtue here as there would be on any field of combat. However, the Fifth Estate may be divided but all sides remain free to express their views. Honourable people abound and are allowed to carry on their good work.
Our future is not determined. It is shaped by yesterday and today; by actions and responses; by thought, expression and discourse; by listening, caring and learning. The practice of discernment and witness could never be more necessary. The ‘dark’ at the end of the tunnel is but the ‘blind corner’ of tomorrow. We know where the Light is.

Duncan Dwinell, member of Sevenoaks Quaker Meeting
15 Lendon Road, Borough Green TN15 8SE Kent