How Did We Get Here? The UK’s Transition Period Ends, Little England Begins

Man with Union Jack hat

Once again the British public is being held at gunpoint by an incompetent government, leading us into a parade of chaos and economic ruin, just one month away from when the UK’s transition period ends.

The “Little England” mentality that has gripped this country for so long can only lead to more scandals from the Conservative government. Nearly every diplomatic challenge faced by the Tories since 2016 has turned into a complete mess.

Let’s take the case of Grenfell Tower for example. The Government twisted a national tragedy into a political opportunity that blew up in their faces. The then new Prime Minister, Theresa May, initially refused to personally meet with survivors of the fire that killed at least 70 people and failed to show even a shred of humanity.

To this day, over 20 families from Grenfell are still homeless after three years, despite the fact that May said it would only take three months to rehouse all families affected.

Or we can take the case of the Windrush scandal. A whole generation of migrants who helped rebuild this country after it was devastated after the Second World War were repaid for their contribution to this country by being deported.

The government proceeded to brush this off as a means to reach “ambitious but deliverable” deportation targets, as Amber Rudd called it in a private letter to Theresa May

It Started With a Referendum

What started with a referendum that was supposed to give political power to the British people quickly mutated into a force that divided and damaged the United Kingdom more than ever before.

From campaign fraud to innovative technology that changed the way politicians interact with voters, Brexit has undoubtedly brought about changes to this country that will ripple into the rest of the 21st Century.

But where did this all begin? On 22 February 2016, Prime Minister David Cameron announced the official date for the UK’s national referendum that would decide if the country would remain as a member state of the EU.

Announcing there was only four months until the crucial vote, campaigners on both sides from every party came together to try and convince the public why they should either stay or leave the EU. In the beginning, it appeared as if the public was being subjected to the tried and tested means of campaigns, especially from the Remainer side.

However, for the official leave campaign, the story was very different. Dominic Cummings by this point was only known by his quirky anti-establishment views as a special adviser for Michael Gove since 2007.

However, Cummings was appointed director of the Vote Leave campaign which put him front of centre of the strategy that was about to change British politics for years to come.

As the UK's transition period ends in one month, we reflect on our relationship with the EU and ourselves
As the UK’s transition period ends in one month, we reflect on our relationship with the EU and ourselves [Image: Guillaume Périgois, Unsplash]

Cambridge Analytica

Cambridge Analytica, a name unknown to the average voter, was arguably the key weapon in the Trump election.  The campaign group received $15M to develop software that could ‘micro-target’ voters who would receive campaign information extremely specific to them.

Cummings, hearing of this group, decided to employ a similar tactic with the company AggregateIQ, a sister company of Cambridge Analytica.

From campaign fraud to innovative technology that changed the way politicians interact with voters, Brexit has undoubtedly brought about changes to this country that will ripple through the 21st Century

AggregateIQ utilised targeting techniques on the internet that was rumoured to be able to identify if someone was falling out of love just by examining their Facebook feed. Vote Leave was able to run campaign ads specific to every group they wanted to convince to support leaving the EU in the referendum.

This technique, however, was too effective and practically divided the country into black and white thinking that saw the majority of citizens in the UK being either strongly for or against the EU. Cummings himself later admitted that the referendum was “a dumb idea” and there were other things the government should have tried first.

Since the referendum ended, the political atmosphere of the UK has been stained by the revelation of the country’s worst political traits.

Corruption, infighting, distrust is stark among all communities and the sense of Britain being a leading country on the world stage has deteriorated. Rational thinking in Parliament has been replaced with empty cries of nationalism. Backbench thinking is now front and centre.

Moreover, these traits have become the spearhead of Britain’s increasing isolationism, belying reputation as world-leading democracy.

The Future

All the scandals instigated by the government’s mishandling of this country since 2016 give us a clear image of what the future for this country will be post-transition. The government still has at least 4 more years of control over our economy and political relations as we fully embark on our post-EU journey.

When it comes to key issues that were present in the referendum like immigration, the problems highlighted become crystallised.

Since the referendum ended, the political atmosphere of the UK has been stained by the revelation of the country’s worst political traits

The immigration system in the UK has been subject to unmerciful budget cuts every year for over a decade. This has resulted in a system that often treats migrants unfairly and has been one of the key factors in the lead up to the Windrush scandal.

The brash attitude of the government during this Brexit era has led to a country that is in a worse situation than it was before Article 50 was triggered. Statistics from Full Fact have revealed that politicians are now among the most distrusted people in the UK.

A government that has lost trust in its people can no longer call itself a participant in an effective democracy. Brexit has brought the worst features of British society to centre stage and it is now up to the government to tackle these issues when the UK’s transition period ends and Little England really begins.

Header image [Skitterphoto, Pexels]

Written by
Kieran Isgin