The long read by Daniel Cohen (Among the remainists, Journal 13 August) charts the radicalisation of remain supporters. But as someone who identifies strongly with this movement and is active within it, I found the sneering and patronising tone difficult to stomach. The caricatured presentation of remainers as an eccentric and ineffectual sect “locked in an arms race to out-remain each other” undermined the presentation of the facts and was antagonistic towards a large swathe of Guardian readers.
Many people in the movement have put their careers and family life on hold. We have stood out in rain, wind and heat engaging with the public. We have endured abuse in the street and online. We have stumped up for crowdfunders and campaigns, travelled hundreds of miles to attend rallies and written countless letters to MPs and newspapers. I have nothing but admiration for the grassroots campaigners and organisers who have given far more of their time and energy that I ever could.
Surely this new political awakening is cause for celebration, not contempt? Out of the remain movement will come the positive change this country needs.
• Daniel Cohen presents a disturbing picture of remain fanatics who are determined to subvert a democratic decision. The 2016 referendum was not advisory or a test of public opinion; it was presented by those who expected a different result as binding. That was the whole point of holding it.
I voted to leave because I am a radical socialist-anarchist and an absolute pacifist. The EU seeks to prevent members opting for socialism or from contracting out of a nuclear-armed alliance like Nato, with which the EU is closely associated. But if this country is to play its part in avoiding catastrophe, it needs to renounce nuclear weapons, close foreign bases, refuse to participate in foreign wars of choice and break the special relationship with the US. We can do none of these things if we are members of the EU and Nato.
I don’t think I’m the only person who voted for Brexit for these reasons. But the remainists cannot even comprehend that such a view exists and can be sustained by powerful arguments.
• One aspect of Brexit that Daniel Cohen fails to acknowledge is the implicit permission that leave has given to the politics of racism and exclusion. It is possible that many who support remain also fear the implications of the free movement clause in the EU agreement, but so far this has not become a central remain concern. Contrast this with the politics of leave, which from the start invoked a clear call to define and exclude “others”.
What this has provided is not just the toleration of the hostile environment, but also a further legitimation of state-organised racism. By all means identify the persona and literature of remain, but do not exclude the mindset that the politics of leave is creating.
• As one of the generation blamed for the Brexit vote, I identified with so much of the long read. I too will feel bereaved if/when Brexit goes ahead and I will be on the march on 19 October. But for me it’s personal. In 2010, my younger son went to Australia to work and is now a dual British and Australian citizen, followed in 2016 by my elder son going to California. Both thought they would return, but have now said they will not come back while the UK is such a divided and racist society. At one time that would have been painful, but now I can only be pleased that they are making careers away from this mess. For the UK, it is the loss of two talented, well-educated individuals who would have contributed much to society. This cannot be a unique situation.
• Daniel Cohen says Brexit has torn the country apart and remainism isn’t trying to put it back together. This fails to recognise that it is likely that remainers and leavers have a lot of concerns in common, such as NHS underfunding, rising private debt, austerity, inequality, etc. The difference is that they blame different institutions: on the one hand, UK government policy over the past 30 years, on the other, the EU. Both domestically and within the EU, the prevailing ideology is neoliberalism, and the Brexit debate has generated a great deal of heat but very little light. The media highlights and cultivates this division rather than providing a balanced assessment of the causes, myths and misinformation that created it. To do such a thing would show that Brexit has been, perhaps, a deliberate distraction.
• The long read could only have been written by someone without sympathy for the estimated half a million workers who will lose their jobs because of the uncompetitive market Brexit will create for exporters, who now pay in tax all of the UK’s contribution to the EU plus about £800m. Defending government policy cannot be right if it means putting people out of work, and when job losses will be so great, any journalist not questioning the justice and decency of it disrespects humanity and themselves.
How can anyone believe that the US is going to take what the UK sends to the EU – £4bn a week tariff-free in exports – or enough to make up what the tariffs of no deal will cost. The EU expects to lose 1.5m jobs, and anyone thinking that it will not be taking steps to minimise its losses is not being realistic.
Reducing a £4bn-a-week import bill will become a priority for the EU, and its economies missing the UK contribution have no choice but to find investment to replace it. With a substantial labour cost advantage over the UK that won’t be a problem. How will the UK regain its loss?
Michael A McPhillips
• Join the debate – email [email protected]
• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters
• Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread of our print edition