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Brexit: The UK's Arab Spring?

The analysis will go on for a long time now, but the repercussions from the Brexit vote will be endless and widespread.      

Well known commentator in The Independent, Patrick Coburn, in "Brexit voters have more in common with Arab Spring protesters than they would like to think" reflects on what the Brits have done to / for themselves......

“In the little moment that remains to us between crisis and catastrophe, we may as well drink a glass of champagne,” said Paul Claudel, the French poet, dramatist and ambassador to the United States in the wake of some calamitous episode in the 1930s. As the British vote to leave the European Union, it feels as if we have reached just such “a little moment”, occurring as it does in a situation that was already dire and likely to get a great deal worse. 

A referendum is by its nature divisive and is justified by explaining that it will produce a democratic decision that everybody can accept. But it is in the very nature of a referendum campaign that issues are over-simplified and presented as black-and-white questions by opponents who demonise each other. The vote becomes the vehicle for demagoguery and agendas that have little to do with Britain’s relationship to Europe.

This referendum has not only widened existing political and social divisions within British society, but has ensured that these differences become more divisive and poisonous".


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"The triumphant mood among those wishing Britain to leave the EU is ominously similar to that of protesters in Arab capitals at the height of the Arab Spring in 2011. Again, the analogy may seem exaggerated because an inbred and often unconscious British sense of superiority bridles at comparisons with other nations. But one of the failings of those protesters in Cairo and Damascus was that they attributed far too many of their country’s troubles to the regime they were trying to overthrow. Demonisation of their opponents made sense in propaganda terms and conveniently freed them from drawing up realistic plans of their own.  Similarly, those determined that Britain should exit the EU have likewise relied on excoriating Brussels as the source of all ills without explaining what they would do to end them.

There are other parallels between the “brave new world” feeling of those Arab Spring protesters five years ago and the Leave campaigners. Almost by accident, Leave has initiated a revolutionary change, but the weakness of revolutions is that they briefly bring together those with little in common except an antipathy to the status quo."

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