No matter who you speak to, whether they are engaged in politics, completely disillusioned or frustrated at the current state of affairs, the point that constantly reappears is that everyone is tired of hearing about Brexit.
More than 3 years after the referendum, the decision still dominates our daily news cycle, which swirls with the uncertainty and political posturing that have come to characterise the Brexit conversation.
Despite the Conservative narrative that has continually claimed that we are ‘on track’ for Brexit, the details of how or when this will occur are still unknown, subject to debate and negotiation. With barely 4 months until the 31st October extension deadline from the EU, the sheer volume of unknown variables – who will be the Prime Minister negotiating the future of Brexit, the details of an Exit Bill, a strategy with which to get this through Parliament, or even a definitive exit date – are overwhelming.
The lack of information concerning Brexit and its implementation means that the constant discussion of Brexit is little more than speculation and fearmongering, which is having a significant impact on the population at large. Reuters reported that since 2017, there has been an 11% increase in people who actively avoid the news, with an overwhelming majority of them citing “frustration or sadness at Brexit” as their reason why. Our constant discussion of the issue of Brexit has resulted in people physically shutting themselves off from the world, preferring to be uninformed than exposed to the constant spiral of disheartening Brexit drivel. This is not surprising, given that the news constantly informs of the lack of progress being made in Westminster, or lack of cooperation by different factions of government. The incessant reminders of the failures of government have led to a disillusioned population, whether that is with Brexit or politics in general.
Beyond this, the media’s – and hence our – engrossment in Brexit has meant that we have not had the space or time to fully consider anything else. As a nation, we have become stuck, fixated on a single issue with very little information to work from. We have forgotten about the war in Syria, and the impact of refugees in Europe. There is no national outcry at the lack of action 2 years after the devastating events at Grenfell, or the increase in child poverty under recent Conservative leadership. The dominating presence of Brexit has sucked the oxygen from the media-sphere. Issues are being side-lined in favour of hypothesising the impact of Brexit, whether that be on the financial sector, the job market, the political environment or food prices.
We should talk about Brexit; the impact that it will have on the UK and Europe for years to come is significant. But as a country, we need to reconsider the extent to which we focus on Brexit. The socio-political impact of an increasingly disillusioned population, combined with the lack of attention and awareness being paid to other issues both within the UK and around the world, should not be underestimated. Brexit dictates our national conversation and attention; we need to examine whether the extent to which this occurs is justified.