Brexit. Soft Brexit. Hard Brexit. Bremain. Bremoan. Brexiteers. Bremainers. “Brexit means Brexit”. Frexit. Grexit. Ever since 23 June, Brexit has seeped into every pore of our political narrative. Like a Farage-shaped vacuum, it has sucked the air and energy out of our political system and consumed everything in its path.
I am passionate about politics, but even I admit that I feel a faint sense of dread as the word “Brexit” is uttered at work or, possibly worst of all, dropped like falling political masonry into an otherwise blissful social setting. One of the very few ‘good’ things about the otherwise wholly depressing election of Donald Trump was that for a few brief days, Brexit was not the top news story.
With my reluctance to discuss all things Brexit in mind then, it seems unusual that this blog is published to coincide with the launching of Bright Blue’s brand spanking new Europe Forum. However, this forum is not a Brexit forum – a Brorum if you must. Rather grandly entitled ‘Positive and Powerful: Britain’s Place in Europe’, this new forum is designed to be forward-looking and, obviously, positive.
The referendum was undoubtedly a divisive and pretty depressing event as the quality and tone of debate on both sides spiralled downwards in true post-truth fashion. So we will spend little time navel gazing about the referendum campaign and wondering what might have been – Brexit meets Sliding Doors.
Instead, the Europe Forum aims to bring together a host of different speakers (ranging from politicians to academics and even the dreaded ‘experts’) with our members to look forward and ask what role can an active and engaged Britain play in Europe? What opportunities does Brexit provide for fashioning a positive role for the UK?
The scope of the forum is ambitious. We want to go beyond the tedious topics that currently dominate the Brexit debate – when will Article 50 be triggered? Will there be a second referendum? What will the House of Lords do? What does Liam Fox actually do? While this kind of Brexit mechanics – Bremanichs, if you insist – may fascinate some, it bores most to tears.
Instead, we recognise that Britain’s relationship with Europe is kaleidoscopically multi-faceted and is worthy of a debate that amounts to more than Bremanichs and boorish Westminster-style ding-dong. Consequently our discussions will, to name but a few topics, cover Britain’s military ties with Europe, our cultural and scientific connections with Europe, the part we can play with the rest of Europe in tackling climate change and addressing the conflicts in the Middle East and the role of Britain as a bridge between Trump’s America (oh, to be able to write “Hillary’s America”) and Europe.
These talks, we hope, will be exciting and engaging and will give our members (and any unwilling victims they drag along) the opportunity to discuss what is undoubtedly the overwhelming political issue of our times. We look forward to seeing you there.
Andrew Baker is Member of Bright Blue and co-chair of our Europe Think Forum. The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue.
The first event of our new Think Forum ‘Positive and Powerful: Britain’s Place in Europe’ will take place on Monday, the 21st of November 2016 from 19:00 - 20:30 pm in the Morpeth Arms (upstairs), 58 Millbank, London, SW1P 4RW. RSVP here.