Editor’s comment: Strange days have tracked us down

The UK left the European Union at 11pm on Friday, January 31, 2020. Picture: PA WIRE

The UK left the European Union at 11pm on Friday, January 31, 2020. Picture: PA WIRE - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

I spent the oddity that was the turn of the millennium (or the turn of 1999/2000, at least) at a small party in a derelict school hall, wearing a dress, playing with my then-band in front of a handful of friends and, bizarrely, my former teacher.

The day Brexit "got done" was at least as strange. I was at a very fun do in north London that was part Friday night Shabbat dinner, part ironic Brexit celebration (EU/UK flag cake with a knife in it) and part packed house party at which I hogged a corner of the kitchen, clutched a bottle of Rioja and forgot people's names.

The Brexitness of things no one knew quite how to handle.

Obviously for many people in the wider country, Friday was a time of celebration.

But it is far from true that half the country was in rapture, just as it is far from true that half the country is in mourning.

For most, life will feel as it was. One complex set of international legal arrangements, agreements and protocols will be replaced by another complex set of legal arrangements, agreements and protocols. There will be consequences, of course, and history will reveal their nature - with the proviso that the counterfactual of 'what would have happened without Brexit' will always be open to debate.

We have to be on our guard for what our country (or countries?)could become. Pride in your country is not nationalism but that direction, and the intolerance it brings, remains a threat. We have to ensure that this government does not get lax when it comes to environmental controls or workers' rights under the flood of negotiations ahead.

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With the year 2000, the world did not end, but an era of some optimism did soon turn sour with the rise of extremism, the War On Terror, and the implosion of unchecked capitalism.

There are lessons there.

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