Should we forgive regretful Leave voters?

A new divide is opening among Remainers (or Rejoiners) on social media. You may have spotted it already. There appears to be a split opinion on how to react to the tide of regretful Leave voters, who now, in 2021, find their lives fucked varying degrees, directly because of Brexit. Despite searching for the unspecified benefits, none have been found, because they were unspecified.

Leave voters looking for their unspecified benefits, yesterday

On the one hand, pragmatism and humanity: People make mistakes, forgive them. Be practical, we need them on our side. Don’t attack them, they’ve already paid the price. Be kind, be nice, hold out a hand of friendship.

On the other hand, for years they called us traitors, libtards, remoaners, snowflakes and shouted abuse at us in the street, refused to listen to any of the warnings from experts, and celebrated their ‘victory’ in the streets of London while stamping EU flags into the mud and shouting vile abuse at our European neighbours.

So, where to go with Bregretters now? It is worth remembering there is a human story behind every cross in a ballot paper. Everyone has a reason for what they do, and many Leave voters genuinely thought they were giving themselves and their children a better future. In other words, they were conned, and they feel rather silly for it. But it seems like the lion’s share of Leavers are still insistent they knew what they were voting for and this is what they expected.

Knew it

If you voted Leave and you have no regrets, then off you pop. I’ve no thoughts about you whatsoever. Nothing. You don’t figure in this at all. You won and the situation is yours to own. Congratulations.

If you are a ‘Bregretter’ (Brexit Regretter) then what I primarily want is for you to say sorry.. and to warn Brexity friends that they’ve landed the UK in a whole lot of trouble. That’s just for starters. I want Bregretters to be open and candid about their mistake. I want them to speak out, to encourage other regretters to come forward. I want them to write letters to the heads of broken industries like fisheries and farmers, apologising for what they’ve done. I want them to write to the letters pages of local papers, stating they were wrong and they want to rejoin the EU by 2030. I want them to come with us on that journey, not stand by, embarassed and quiet. I want unity.

I want Bregretters to say sorry. I want them to come with us, to rejoin the EU by 2030.

Then, maybe, just maybe, I’ll forgive. And I am being very generous here, compared to some.

I’ve encountered others in the Remain/Rejoin camp that will never forgive, but honestly, I think they’re wrong to rule it out.

A good chunk of Remainers say we should forgive Leavers immediately and unconditionally, because bitterness serves no purpose and holds back any progress. But My God, it’s so damned hard to ignore the insults and the hatred that was thrown at us over four long years, especially when no apology is forthcoming and no remorse is shown.

Photo by BROTE studio on
The face of the thing we are asked to forgive, yesterday

Some, like the esteemed James O’Brien, say, “Contempt for the conmen, compassion for the conned.”, suggesting Leave voters are victims, just like us. But I don’t think that many were conned. I think they were enabled. I think somebody in power legitimised their bigotry and they delighted in it, they felt validated and empowered in their existing sourness. In truth I think many Leavers were simply conning themsevles, buying into the notion of some vague unspecified benefits to justify their instinctive hatred of immigrants or their nostalgia for a fifty-year old Britain that no longer exists, or simply their fear of a peaceful union between states.

I don't think that many were conned. I think they were enabled. 

Some Leavers genuinely knew about politics and were informed on the facts of the EU and deeply disliked the way it was run, but those people preferred to nuke fifty years of progress from orbit, destroying their own country in the process, rather than fix the problems.

Consider this; if a person steals your bike, then rides it past your house every day while hurling abuse and laughing at you, would you find it in your heart to forgive them? Or would you wait keenly for that moment the brakes failed because you were in the middle of replacing them when it got stolen?

Get ready for regret

Now, consider this; if a person steals your bike, then knocks on your door, apologises and hands it back, would you forgive them?

Brexiters have stolen our metaphorical bikes and have been riding them past our houses, shouting abuse at us, for the last four years. Not once have they knocked on the door and apologised.

Most of us would forgive in an instant... Wouldn't we?

The key word here is apology. It’s a key because it unlocks forgiveness and enables empathy and understanding to come flooding out. Most Remainers/Rejoiners are gentle souls, with kind and open personalities, and they appreciate the value of a regretful Brexiter to their cause. Most of us would forgive in an instant… Wouldn’t we?

With the echoes of ‘libtards’, ‘snowflakes’ and ‘remoaners’ still ringing in our ears, and less than a month of consequences to endure, it’s perhaps a little too soon for many to give forgiving hugs to their self-destructive opponents. Note, I use the word opponent, not enemy. Because no two people in the same country should consider each other enemies.

The damage is only just beginning. In the months and years ahead, turmoil and hardship will be unleashed on all kinds of people because of Brexit, and all kinds of business will suffer. Among them will be individuals who were once proud Brexiters.

Sooner or later the question will be asked, not can we remainers forgive them, but can they forgive themselves?

2 thoughts on “Should we forgive regretful Leave voters?

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