My 350 on BREXIT: A country that is suffering a nervous breakdown

"Never can I remember feeling the political situation in my country is so bleak."

29 June 2016

In the aftermath of the historic British vote to leave the EU, openDemocracy is asking for our readers' thoughts on Brexit and what needs to happen next in 350 words. We've had an extraordinary response and you can read them all here.

Never can I remember feeling the political situation in my country is so bleak. I am English, and I voted to Remain. I vote Remain not because I am a huge fan of the EU, but because I felt it was the lesser of two evils.

The Tory right and the media barons now hold more power than ever, and are in the ascendency marching forward with renewed confidence and a sense of empowerment. It is simply a case of bayoneting the wounded on the political battlefield from their point of view.

The NHS, the BBC, workers' rights, consumer rights and environmental protection – it is all up for grabs now the EU is out of the way.  Not all of these things were connected to the referendum, however, my point is that those that seek to control us via an unleashing of market forces, now have the momentum and confidence to do so. The picture is indeed bleak.

Additionally, we have a far right, that is now also on the march. Social media is full of stories of ‘keyboard warriors’ turned rabble rousers turning their attention to hassling people in the street now they ‘have their country back’. I fear the murder of lawmaker Jo Cox – whilst extreme – is a sign of things to come, with the advent of a less tolerant society and a far right emboldened by their referendum victory.

England needs to get its act together. We will soon be out of a second union – the one with Scotland. At the moment, I feel like I am living in a country that is suffering a nervous breakdown. It will come out of the other end eventually, but as a very different country to the one we all grew up in.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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