UK Politics

Could “metroism” heal our divided Britain?

The definition of the neighbourhood varies dramatically, but longing to be a part of one is universal

BY Olivia Utley | OliviaBUtley   /  17 May 2017

Eleven months ago, people who had never voted before were heatedly debating the importance of sovereignty and our membership of the single market; now even hardcore politicos are bored sick at the prospect of a snap general election.

The thrill has been sucked out of British politics.

The Conservatives are expecting a landslide victory precisely because they have embraced this. Theresa May is not trying to sell Brexit as the shining solution to all our problems wrapped up in a gingham table cloth, but instead has personified the view that there is a job to be done and it may as well be done properly. According to a recent You Gov poll 43% of the country believe that Brexit was the wrong decision, but only 21% now want to see the referendum result overturned or ignored. We are looking for confident, dull solidity to see us through, and the “Stong and Stable” mantra, irritating as it may be, has hit the nail right on the head.

The division theatrically exposed by the referendum may be bandaged up by a Conservative landslide, but truly reunifying a nation cleaved in two will take more than half the population wearily resigning themselves to the inevitable. The referendum was explosive because it made us question what Britain stands for and where we belong, and it is that sort of passion that must be channelled back into British politics.

At the extreme ends of the spectrum, there was a striking similarity between Leavers and Remainers: a desire to find common ground with our neighbours. While the most zealous Remainers built a “love chain” with Rome and Paris, the most ardent Leavers fervently explained to anyone who would listen that British people are islanders at heart, bound together in a way mainland Europe cannot possibly understand. The definition of the neighbourhood varies dramatically, but longing to be a part of one is universal….