How is Alistair Carmichael switching off from Brexit?

The Times Red Box asked MPs from all parties how they are going to try to switch off from Brexit.

As if they actually could.

I mean, that cliff edge is a week and four hours away at the time of writing.

The article has a serious point though. There is so much strain on MPs at the moment. If four in ten of the general population, according to the Mental Health Foundation, are suffering from some sort of Brexit-related anxiety, how much worse is it going to be for MPs in such a febrile environment.

It is not a good atmosphere to be making decisions which will affect this country for generations. I think that they should grab as long as extension as the EU will grant and go back to first principles. Or just decide to revoke Article 50. That would free them up to talk about something else – like making sure everyone has a house that they can afford and the means to feed themselves and their families.

Anyway, two Liberal Democrats took part in Red Box’s survey.

Alistair Carmichael’s answer was predictable:

I don’t think I will get my mind off Brexit but I have a bottle of Highland Park that should help to numb the pain. Obviously other single malts are available (which is just as well as I fear that one bottle may not be enough).

Tim Farron’s was entirely unsurprising too:

I will go for a run with my famous spaniel… and fret about Blackburn Rovers’ terrible form… and watch Shetland with the kids… and go to church (praying seems especially worthwhile right now…) and knock on tonnes of doors of course!

Joking apart, I have been feeling increasingly anxious for months. I’m sure each knife edge vote in the Commons takes about a week off my life. I’m not dealing with it terribly well – more chips and wine than quinoa salad, put it this way.  There is so much at stake.

Politics has been anxiety inducing for the best part of a decade now. The coalition years were difficult, but it was the Scottish referendum, another existential threat to our peaceful way of life, that first made me feel absolutely ill. Part of that was simply because people were horrible to each other. Some families are still not speaking to each other over stances that they took at that time.

This time, in Scotland at least, there is little Brexit related hostility but there is an anxiety, compounded by the efforts we know Nicola Sturgeon will make towards an independence referendum. To be fair, she’s only doing it because she knows the Tories will knock back any request. The last thing the SNP want is a referendum they won’t win. But if they can foster more grievance while they’re waiting to see if the mood changes on that, they will. It’s not an edifying prospect.

The real way to deal with the underlying anxiety is to stop the Brexit nonsense by whatever means work, Then we need to really start tackling the divisions in our society. Back in the 1950s, when living standards were going up, more social housing was being built and we were becoming a healthier nation as the NHS offered decent care and the welfare state provided a decent safety net, people were more optimistic and settled. So the way to deal with the divisions is to make sure people have the basics they need to live. It’s the time for big ideas not big divisions.

Neither Labour nor Conservatives in their current form is capable of delivering that. We need to reform our politics to deliver a kinder and fairer country.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Alistair had the right attitude IMHO

  • Yeovil Yokel 7th Apr '19 - 2:12pm

    Brexit is like an addiction: I know that it’s harming me (in more ways than one), but I I cannot escape from it and I have the frequent urge for electronic updates. I don’t have drink or running to provide solace, but I’m fortunate to have an orchard where I can lose myself in work for a few hours immersed in the natural world I’m busy conserving – and I don’t have a smartphone.

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