At the end of January 2020 the moment of no return had come for Great-Britain. A
fter the outcome of the December 2019 general election broke the parliamentary stalemate that had hitherto made it impossible to bring the Brexit process, instigated in 2016, to a conclusion. Then just seven weeks later, on 23 March, the UK and devolved governments announced that there was to be a UK-wide lockdown in the wake of an outbreak of a new disease, Sars-Cov-2 or COVID-19, that was proving highly infectious and had already resulted in loss of life.
Next to the biggest public health crisis in a century, the British had to face a crisis that is still leaving its mark on the country’s social and economic life some 18 months later.
There has been much debate about whether the COVID-19 pandemic might create an opportunity to introduce major changes in public policy and the structure of society. In many countries around Europe lots of politicians point their finger saying “its all the fault of CoViD.
Even when the EU has offered to sweep away most customs and health checks on animal and plant products entering Northern Ireland under a revision of the current system, both sides privately recognise that fundamental differences remain between their visions for the future.
The crucial issue is whether EU law in Northern Ireland will continue to be policed by the European court of justice (ECJ). The UK government believes it has been proved to be politically unsustainable for Northern Ireland to be under laws supervised by an EU court over which its own people do not have a say.
For the British consumers, the whole Brexit circus is driving them either mad or laconic disinterested or apathetic. Empty shop shelves and empty petrol stations are, according to several Brits, simply the result of an absurd exit from the EU.
Britain is left divided between one half of the country who now feel better about how they are being governed and another half who, relatively at least, are as unhappy as they have ever been.
The latest British social attitudes survey is Britain’s longest-running tracker of public opinions, building up a comprehensive and authoritative picture of how the country’s attitudes and expectations have evolved over the past four decades across a diverse range of moral, social and political issues.
The survey found that the pandemic pushed public concern over inequality to its highest level since 1998, as well as raising support for welfare benefits and public spending, but it concluded there was little evidence so far that Covid had proved a “reset” moment that indicated a widespread desire for radical social or political change.
Strangely enough several of the respondents to the survey found again some trust in the government, believing they, at last, started to think more about the country itself, putting the nation’s needs before party interests.
Of leave voters, 31% expressed trust in government, up from 12% in 2019. Remain voters largely distrusted the government in 2019 (14%) and this view had changed little (17%) a year later.
The debates around inequality sparked off by the pandemic caused a small shift in public attitudes. Nearly two-thirds (64%) agreed that “ordinary working people do not get their fair share of the nation’s wealth” – seen as a proxy for levels of concern over inequality. This was up from 57% in 2019, and the highest level since 1998.
The number disagreeing for the redistribution of wealth from rich to poor increased from 27% in 2019 to 30%, whilst 46% agreed with redistribution – up from 39% in 2019.
With Winter coming and still not having enough truck drivers, Britain will face another harrowing shortage of goods in the coming week. Still through the Brexit debacle, the entire British population will now have to bear the consequences and pain of the earlier choice of Brexit.