A Conversation with Steve Bray
by Kevan James
One of the aspects to the ongoing furore over Brexit that is getting lost (and there are many such aspects) is that ordinary people are being ignored. Those who voted leave are quick to point this out and equally, so are those who voted to remain. Whichever way people voted, there is no doubt that those in the House of Commons are following their own agenda, regardless of which way ordinary people did cast their votes.
The result of the referendum saw a clear majority in favour of leaving the European Union but it is still valid to say that those who want to stay need to be listened to. The Ultra-Brexiteers in parliament clearly aren’t doing that so it is left to ordinary people to make their voices heard.
One of those doing so is Steve Bray. He has become something of a celebrity not just in the UK but elsewhere also, as a result of his vocal protestations. Yet some on the leave side, particularly on social media have taken to simply hurling insults rather than listening. I spent a little time with Steve recently outside the Houses of Parliament and all but one of the passers-by who stopped were in favour of his protests – including those who voted to leave.
The one who didn’t resorted to the insult method, jabbing his fingers in Steve’s direction and clearly wasn’t interested in an alternative point of view. To his credit, Steve didn’t rise to the bait, at least not by any degree. He did have a very mild go back, which, as I pointed out to him, was not the reputation he has.
‘It’s not really me, I don’t usually respond to insults at all.’ He smiled genially. ‘It’s been a long day though, so I’m getting tired now’.
By tired, he meant of course, the rigours of another day. All of us can grow weary as the day draws to a close but what he is not weary of is his cause.
‘Yes, I think we can stay in the EU. I believe it’s the best course for the UK’.
I made the point that the EU needs to alter the way it does things but you can’t change something from the outside.
‘Exactly,’ he replied. ‘That’s the point. Changing anything the EU does can’t be done if we aren’t a member and the EU has done a lot of good things.’
There is little doubt that the EU has indeed done much that is good and this is another point that has been lost in the often explosive verbosity surrounding Brexit. The most overriding point however, is that whatever one thinks of the EU and whichever way one voted, one of the most precious freedoms we have in the UK is to mount a protest against something.
Such protests are sometimes hijacked by those with ulterior motives but it doesn’t have to be that way. One afternoon spent outside the Mother of all Parliaments proved that as Steve and other remain supporters mixed with leavers quite contentedly. One only has to look across the channel, or east to Hong Kong, to see another way of doing things.
One can criticise other places and other methods but the British way is Steve’s way, as it is for most leave voters. None wants to put down the other – but they are nonetheless passionate.
Steve has had his critics but he is an intelligent, articulate man who believes the UK will be better off as a member of the EU. He is a proud Brit and he’s also a nice guy. Perhaps if the more one-eyed among us paused for thought a little more and actually listened, Brexit need not have become the toxic issue it has.