The 20 teens were hesitant years. There was a cautious economic recovery from the slump of 2008-10, as the deficit was tamed and capacity gently rebuilt.
There was a crisis over the UK’s role in the world. The ruling elites saw the UK as part of the EU project to centralise power, with the UK as a covert participant in the mighty task of European political, monetary and economic integration. A majority of the public wanted the UK to return to being an independent country, capable of self government with a confident outward looking view of herself in a global world. Happy to trade with the EU, keen to travel, to promote many exchanges in education, culture and tourism, the majority saw no need to lock us into a political union to allow these things to continue. They will continue anyway when we leave as they do for many other independent countries having dealings with the EU .
The elite’s refusal to accept the decision of the people led to undue stresses and strains on most of the institutions of the UK state. The Central Bank, already brought low by its failure to stop excesses in credit prior to 2008 and by its clumsy and damaging over correction, entered the fray against the majority decision. The Courts took up cases against government and Parliament, and made decisions designed to slow down or prevent Brexit.
Parliament itself turned against Brexit, despite most MPs being elected in 2017 for Labour or Conservative on promises to see it through. Brexiteers were left with the irony that the very institution they wished to restore to full power did not want that power and spent its time trying to prevent the UK taking control of its own money, laws and borders.
Some large companies turned out endless propaganda against Brexit as if the decision had not been made, repeating the often phoney claims of future economic damage that they had used to try to get people to vote their way in the first place.
The EU itself refused to accept the verdict of the UK people, and worked with the Remain forces in the UK to seek delay or damaging terms for exit that might get the public to change their mind.
Despite all of this the people voted again decisively as the decade ended to get Brexit done. That included many who voted just to leave, and others who voted for the Withdrawal Agreement on offer in anticipation of a Free Trade Agreement to follow. Tomorrow I will look at how and why the next decade can be so much better.