Deidre Brock MP
Edinburgh North and Leith
Brexit’s Dark Metamorphosis
This time last year we were all worrying about Brexit and dodgy trade deals with the USA. We were concerned for our friends and neighbours who are from elsewhere in the EU. We were thinking about all those people whose jobs rely on good trading links created by the EU across Europe and beyond. We were thinking about losing the food standards protections and what would replace them, we were talking about being outside the European Arrest Warrant system, we were trying to work out how we could continue to get radioactive isotopes for the NHS, and so on. Leaving the EU and the implications of that were consuming our attention every day.
Then Covid happened. In the spring - a time that is supposed to be about rebirth and renewal, about hope for the future, about the earth wakening again after the long sleep of winter - the great pandemic reached its fingers across the world and started breaking people and societies, pushing health services to capacity, pushing people into unfamiliar situations and uncomfortable new circumstances.
Most of us learned to cope with the new rules that our communities had, lots of folk started helping neighbours and volunteering to help others who couldn’t help themselves. We know that lots of people struggled. We know that far too many died, and too many are left carrying the after-effects of the disease.
Some people who should have known better unforgivably stepped outside the rules but most acted to protect themselves and others.
They were hard times, tough for people who couldn’t visit loved ones (or be visited by loved ones); hard for kids who had to learn they couldn’t go to school and play with their friends; really rough on people who couldn’t be with spouses, partners, parents, siblings as they faced their final hours; hard on new grandparents who couldn’t hold the little ones who would normally be bringing such joy to them.
It spared no one and left none of us untouched but we did it because we believe that we can get through difficult very much low key as we try to avoid an explosion of infections.
There’s hope, of course; there are vaccines that look promising and treatments are a bit more effective and are still improving. Research scientists have proven their worth by showing us those extraordinary things that can be achieved by skilled, determined people. Whilst also shining a wee light of hope on all of us.
Medical staff led us through the dangers and addressed other health issues at the same time - and it looks like they’ll have to do it all again. Carers braved those dangers to do their jobs; shop-workers, delivery drivers, bin lorry crews and many more kept society working.
There’s hope while folk can do that and there’s hope of vaccines and cures. I’d love to think we can wrap it all up in 2020 and dump it in the recycling with the old calendars but I think it’ll carry on a while longer - into the New Year, at least. We’ll have to keep at it.
In the meantime, Brexit will complete its dark metamorphosis and we’ll be out of the EU. Those twin blows - Covid and Brexit - will cause economic and social damage that will affect us all for years to come. We’ll get through it because we know that we can get through difficult times and we know there are better times to come - we always know this.
We’ll get through it but it won’t be easy for people, lots of people; people who have lost family members and friends; people whose jobs have gone, whose businesses and ambition couldn’t survive both blows together, or whose customers no longer have the money to spend that they once did.
If you have something to spare you might think of helping your neighbour, spending in a local business, volunteering for a local charity or the like. What’s certain is that we’ll all have to be there for one another more than we (collectively) have been in the past.
I hope we can all meet on the other side but, in the meantime, I hope your Christmas isn’t too bad and that you’ll be able to join me at Hogmanay in wishing 2020 bloody good riddance.
Married professors Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci developed the science of ‘promising’ Covid 19 vaccine