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23 June 2021

How Brexit changed us: Brexit is like weight-lifting – in the end you will grow stronger

For me chaos is good, it’s creative, and Boris Johnson is its political product.

By Sasha Swire

I liken Brexit to weight lifting – straining bones and muscles to lift above your weight, in the knowledge you will in the end grow stronger. Yes, I voted Remain – that’s another story – but I fully support Brexit now.

I always disliked the weight of a centralised, bureaucratic system on our shoulders because it just wasn’t poetic. It destroyed hedges, woods and wildlife with its push for industrial farming; impeded growth of the underdeveloped world with a protectionist marketplace; promoted an agenda that left local culture and self-determination behind. I abhorred the way it was controlled by a smug educated elite, unelected by the British public.

In a decentralised system the individual is more important, has more power, because they are not dragged down when things go wrong, and empires always go wrong. They go wrong because of chaos theory. The EU after all is a dynamical system, its constitution, the interrelationship between member states, is always fluctuating. Its system of governance can never settle down to a static set of rules; in time those states will always swing towards a different orientation. And that was the problem with the EU, it never wanted to change. Any reforms it made felt superficial and came too late. Paradoxically, the culture of “progress” that was so advocated by Remainers was really about standing still, maintaining an unsatisfactory status quo.

For me chaos is good, it’s creative, Boris Johnson its political product. The speedy vaccine response was a striking example of how a cataclysmic event can lead to quicker and more innovative structures outside the monolithic EU. We can do the same now in finance, in life sciences, in health, technology and data. Redirect ourselves towards different attractors.

“You wanna fly,” Toni Morrison wrote in Song of Solomon, “you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

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“Diary of an MP’s Wife” by Sasha Swire is published by Little, Brown

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This article is from our “How Brexit changed us” series, marking five years since the referendum.