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The middle ground is our only route out of this Brexit abyss

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Brexit is a conundrum in search of a compromise. The referendum, after all, delivered a narrow majority for leave; the political convulsions ever since have torn at Britain’s democratic and social fabric; and no one credible believes a hard break from the EU can be achieved without significant economic pain. A rational approach, therefore, would focus on a compromise seeking to unite the country as much as possible, minimise economic damage and allow the conversation to shift on to what Theresa May diagnosed – and proceeded to fuel – as the “burning injustices” disfiguring British society. But the middle ground underpinning such a compromise has been deliberately shredded, torched, carpet-bombed from both directions.

The British right and their media allies have played the decisive role. Tory media outlets and the Tory hierarchy – David Cameron included – spent years demonising migrants, scapegoating them for social problems – like stagnating wages or the housing crisis – that are actually caused by those with power. George Osborne’s ideologically driven austerity project failedThe Tory Brexiteers waged a campaign that synthesised impossible promises with unapologetic migrant-bashing. When their unachievable pledges were exposed as just that, they fell back on a double narrative: of betrayal, that the glorious Brexit revolution has been stopped short by a conniving political elite; and of weakness and lack of fight in confronting the EU. May’s own robotically repeated mantra of “No deal is better than a bad deal”, her demagogic, ultimately empty tirades against the EU, were all amplified by the Tory press. The consequence? A large swathe of leave voters angrier and more disillusioned than ever, and more than a third........

© The Guardian