So Simon, can I ask you a few questions.
Do you believe that we have made the right decision, no matter what the financial consequences? Will it be worth it no matter what the financial outlook for the next 5 years or so, just to get our 'sovereignty' back?
The pound has fallen and is predicted by most people to continue falling up to the middle of next year. Will it recover, or will it then remain roughly on parity with the Euro? Does this matter? Maybe not to some people who voted to leave, but it will matter a great deal to many. Inflation will almost certainly rise quite significantly. Does this matter? It certainly will for many at the bottom end of our wage structures. Nissan are now talking about the possibility of moving car production out of the UK into Europe. Is this just scaremongering or posturing in order to get a 'better deal' for themselves with our Government, or are they serious? Who knows at the moment, but if they (and others like them) are serious, then the consequences for the British economy and the lives of the workers who are employed there will indeed be severe, even life changing. Some of the International banks are also looking at the possibility of moving their Headquarters out of London into other financial centres in Europe. Are they serious, or are they just posturing? I know it's not at all popular to say anything positive about Banks and the Banking system, but like it or not, the Banking and the Financial Services sector brings in large amounts of revenue for the British economy.
Irrespective of how you feel about Europe and how dangerous it is, you and others who voted to leave must surely have some concerns about what will happen to Britain, its economy and its people over the coming years. You may claim that things will get better in the long term, and that what is happening now, and is likely to happen in the near future is just a short term glitch. Fine, but when do you believe the long term benefits will be realised? How long a period of uncertainty and short term pain will be acceptable before we see the light at the end of the tunnel?
Frank, and Simon, I take it that you are in favour of what is normally termed a 'Hard Brexit', that is pulling completely out of the single market. DO you think that there is a mandate for demanding that this happens. UKIP certainly will continue to 'campaign' (in this case, a euphemism for 'lie') for this, but I certainly don't feel the Conservative Government is united behind this viewpoint? Do you really think that all those who campaigned for an exit, and those who voted to leave had any idea of what sort of Brexit would result from a vote to leave. I am sure that you did, but do you not think that a sizable percentage of those wo voted had the remotest idea of the complexity of the exit process. Is there really a mandate for a so called 'HARD BREXIT'? The whole bedrock of the 'Leave' campaign was founded on a litany of lies, half-truths and unfulfillable promises, and almost no discussion about what a Brexit would really constitute.
Lastly, but certainly not least. The EU may feel dangerous to you. It did not feel dangerous to me, but I guess that is a matter of personal opinion. What does feel dangerous to me is the vitriolic division in the British social fabric and political institutions that has resulted from this referendum. The Labour party has imploded, potentially rendering it an ineffective counter to our current Government for years to come. The Conservative Government has been hijacked by a right wing clique, and with the support of the UKIP party (if they survive their recent infighting) will continue to drive the party to the right.
Did you happen to watch Question Time on the BBC last week? I can't believe that any reasonable person who witnessed the event could be anything but appalled at the vitriol spouted by a number of those people voicing support for a Hard Brexit in the direction of Ken Clarke, who was a highly respected former member of the Tory party.
Simon, you may well have felt threatened by Europe. I am concerned about the very social fabric of the UK. Scotland will hold another referendum on continued membership of the UK unless Theresa May decides to veto this option. If she does, then where will this lead us? The outcome of this referendum could well mean the break up of the UK. Plaid Cymru is already beginning to campaign for a so called soft rather than hard Brexit, because of the likely impact of a hard Brexit on the Welsh economy. Will they gain ground, or do you think that they are a lost cause and that it is impossible that Wales could go the way of Scotland. Of course neither of these things might happen, but has it been worth the risk? What does a hard Brexit from a single market mean to Northern Ireland and the borders between the North and South. Can we have a hard Brexit without reinstating the border checkpoints between Northern Ireland and Eire? No matter what the outcome of our Brexit talkx, it is imperative that the UK Government does whatever it takes to ensure that borders between the two countries remain open.
I have witnessed Britain at its worst over the last few months, egged on by the divisive campaigning of the UKIP party who appear to me at the fringes to be taking on the mantle of the BNP. 'Hate' crimes have escalated dramatically since the leave vote, since some of those people on the fringes of the Brexit campaign appear to have taken the vote as a mandate to indulge their hatred. I do know of course, that the vast majority of the 'Leave' voters will genuinely be appalled by these events, but the UKIP campaign has pandered directly to these very people.
So, I see Britain with a very uncertain future, both economically and socially, and much more divided than ever before. I suspect that many others feel the same as me.