Bob Bury

Brexit: lying does pay if you’re a politician – unfortunately at the NHS’s expense

You see? – I was right, lying does pay. Not only that, but lying again after the event by saying that you weren’t lying even when there is ample evidence that you were – in the form photos and video of you standing in front of a big bus painted with the slogan and confirming that you would indeed put all of that £350M into the NHS – in no way disqualifies you from holding high political office.

It really is breath-taking, and the fact is that the Leave politicians will get away with it, because the public seem to be incapable of registering what is in front of their eyes. We’ve all no doubt seen the reports of poor, distressed Leave voters and their ‘buyer’s remorse’, and the 74 year old lady who reported that many of her lunch club chums thought that voting ‘Leave’ meant that we would tell all the immigrants to leave, and were choked to find that we were out of the EU as a result.

So it would be easy to say that we are out of the EU because the electorate are stupid. But this is what happens if you ask a poorly educated and economically disadvantaged section of society to decide difficult issues which should be the remit of the elected government. Yes, I know I’m sounding intellectually elitist, and that plenty of educated people voted Leave, and even led the campaign (for reasons which continue escape me, except in those cases where naked political ambition was the driver), but the fact is that the foot-soldiers who gave them victory were the army of those who were ready and willing to be stirred up by the bigoted rantings of the right-wing tabloids, or those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap who just wanted to give someone – anyone – a good kicking.

The tragedy is that the latter will be the very people who suffer most from the fall-out of their decision to vote leave.

Of course my generation, the baby boomers, have incurred the ire of the young people because we sold out the interests of the generation that will have to live with the consequences, long after we’re pushing up the daisies. It’s difficult to argue with that, looking at the voting figures for the different age groups, and although I don’t know anyone of my age who voted to leave, my cosy little enclave of middle-class professional folk is not representative of wrinklies generally.

However, when I am taken to task by youngsters, I gently point out that if it was so important to them, it’s a pity that fewer than half of them are said to have voted (although the turnout data are based on projections rather than actual counts).

Anyway, we are where we are. We all know what it means for the NHS – less money, not more, and increased difficulty in recruitment. As I write, the finance Director of the East Kent Trust has just tweeted that it has started – EU applicants for a consultant post have pulled out due to Brexit, and with 10% of nursing posts unfilled, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that things can only get worse.

And losing to Iceland didn’t help. The Guardian’s sport section ran had the headline ‘England exit in humiliation’. So at least the sub-editors weren’t complaining – they were able to use the same headline twice inside a week.

The Brexiteers may have got the country back, but it’s not my country any more.

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