Melanie McDonagh

This EU anarchy is more interesting than the alternative

This EU anarchy is more interesting than the alternative
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Don’t know about you, but the healing process is proving difficult from my point of view in dealing with my friends and family. My daughter, who is 9, broke down and cried over breakfast when she heard the result. Which is nothing to what her class will do: to a child, they’re solidly pro-Remain, and I know who’s spreading the message too – one of the little girls’ fathers is a journalist who worked himself up into a state of incoherence at the very thought of Brexit… he’s probably lying down in a darkened room right now.

A colleague of mine whom I’d always thought of as rather a good friend won’t actually speak to me now; she has discerned that I may not be wholly on side on the result. Another colleague has been going into meltdown on Twitter; she’s just about holding it together. And I have honestly been terrifically responsible, concerned about the markets and worried about sterling; I do see that things could go horribly wrong.

It’s just that there is an anarchic side to my character which GK Chesterton identified when he observed about journalists that there is a class of person to whom it matters less that things turn out well or ill than that they happen at all. And that’s about it: the resignation of the PM comes squarely into the category of things happening. As for the sheer excitement of developments, the sense that the predicted has not happened, that the unpredicted did, that the people spoke and didn’t say what any respectable person wanted them to say… it’s heady, that’s what it is.

I have tried to be sternly impartial about the issues, really I have. I do see the merits of both sides but what I couldn’t stand is being preached at by bloody Bob Geldof plus Eddie Izzard plus Emma Thompson plus every other celeb. How many votes did they lose Remain, do you reckon? The murder of Jo Cox was horrible, but the corollary – as near to dog whistle politics as the Left gets – that somehow the  Brexit campaign generated a climate of hate in which people did hateful things, was to me quite shocking.

For the political classes, to which journalists belong, upheaval is meat and drink to us, though the more sober-minded worry about the effect of recession on newspaper advertising. An affirmation of the status quo would have kept us going for a day or two; this is something else. We love the unpredictable because it’s proper news, not the manufactured sort we’re normally dished up… can you wait for the sheer acreage of analysis we’ll be getting in the weekend papers? (I may pass on that too.) Things have happened, all right, and they look as if they’re going to carry on happening. I’m sorry, but anarchy is more interesting than the alternative. And I suppose eventually my friends will talk to me again.