The Brexit crisis will initiate a new order. People who care about climate, austerity and inequality must act now to win the 2020s
With an imminent general election, both the main political parties are riven by rows over Brexit and how tough a line to take. Yet the lesson of the last election in 2017 was that the public gets to choose which issues really matter, not the politicians – and politicians forget at their peril that elections are about issues that are as broad as life itself. And this forthcoming vote could well be much more consequential than the last one: not just wider than Brexit, but bigger than it too.
Brexit itself is merely the prism through which a much larger contest has been refracted. Over the past few years, the Brexit debate has shifted away from the question of whether the UK would secure a “good deal” or a “bad deal” from the European Union – as if we were haggling over the price of a secondhand car – towards a more isolationist impulse. Now the Brexiters argue we should walk away with a “clean break”.
There is a real possibility that the 2020s will define our political and economic settlement for an entire generation