Brexit, Three Months On

It’s just over three months since the UK voted to Brexit, and whilst everything has changed, it also seems like nothing has changed. I’m just going back now to read my post-Brexit reaction, and whilst I’ve definitely cooled down a lot more now, a lot of my feelings there are the same. I am still scared. I am still angry. I am still upset. (And I am still half-pretending that this whole thing is one big nightmare. I honestly wish so Brexit had never happened, but there you go.)

I will admit that I’ve somewhat been avoiding the news a bit — especially over the summer holidays, when I was away a lot anyway. I’m definitely not feeling as bad as I was, but it’s just sort of…a looming cloud I don’t like to remind myself of. I’m very good at just ignoring things I want to go away! It feels kind of weird to be describing my own feelings right now, actually? I don’t see much of that. Maybe it’s just what I read. But usually politics and Brexit stuff is factual; like, what’s happening here and who said that. It literally is a massive shadow over me, though.

I’m also pretty lucky that it hasn’t yet affected me dramatically; after all, I live in London (one of the most pro-Europe areas) and I’m already pretty privileged. No one is coming up to me and telling me to go homeNo one is trying to attack me. I do still feel like the referendum vote was extremely emotion-driven — from what I’ve seen, it looks like people sort of just voted because they wanted immigrants to leave. (Or, like, to stop the oppression of the EU or whatever other crap is happening.)

Yet just this morning on the radio I heard as part of an announcement on our Brexit strategy that we would try to replicate previous business relationships as closely as possible. IF YOU JUST WANTED IT TO BE THE SAME THEN WE SHOULDN’T BLOODY BE LEAVING. *sighs* It just seems so stupid. On one hand: I don’t want everything to completely change. But on the other hand: if we just have a similar kinda thing to the European Economic Area or something, then what was the point in even Leaving? (Capital-L Leaving.) We’re just the same as before, but not getting to make any of the decisions.

Nothing MASSIVE has happening yet. Although a ton of stuff has also happened. We have an utterly new PM & Government and the Labour party is basically dying. There are some weird things happening with grammar schools which don’t particularly make sense to me, but I do go to a private school so I guess I’m a bit of a hypocrite. (I mean, although obviously I am SUPER grateful for my education, I sometimes wish I didn’t…) Whenever I see another bad thing, I think ‘at least [insert terrible event here]’ because apparently that is now a comfort to me. At least Andrea Leadsom didn’t win the Tory Leadership. (Oh my god, she wanted to get rid of same-sex marriage. I wanted to cry.) At least we are all still alive, at least my parents haven’t lost their jobs, at least the NHS hasn’t yet collapsed etc. etc.

Over the holidays I was reaing the Ron Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton, and the passages about creating a new government really struck me. There was this whole thing about how he tried to create a system where there wasn’t a too big imbalance of power between executive and the people — this is so not the right phrasing but never mind. And about fear of populism and the mob ruling over what’s actually good in the long term. I mean, I’m not going to sit here making parallels about two subjects I’m not especially educated in, but it did make me think for a bit.

And it makes me really sad to hear the little anecdotes. Like apparently this uni one of my cousins works at won’t be receiving much funding anymore… It’s not Oxbridge or anything like that so the UK institutions give them far less in grants than the EU. And everything just feels a bit like a funeral; people just sort of come up and express their sadness and we all feel sad. A funeral with more black humour. I am basically only surviving this through black humour.

There will be some good things, I am still hoping! We’re not very far into this whole procedure yet. I mean, I don’t at all thinks it’s going to be a paradise… (If you hadn’t picked that up already.) But you never know. Less money going to farmers who make up a tiny percentage of people and all that. It’s a little hard to be positive because both my parents are basically just like AAAH WE’RE GOING TO DIE IF WE ACTUALLY LEAVE but I’m living through it haha.

Recently I’ve been trying to listen to world news a bit more, too, instead of the usual Radio 4 fare. (I like to have radio on in the background; being in a silent house alone is super uncomfortable for me.) This is DEFINITELY not the worst thing that could be happening to us. It feels pretty massive right now, but that’s right now — there are plenty of bigger things out there. I guess I’ll just continue on and see what happens.

 

After Brexit

My emotions are in turmoil right now. I’ve been drifting between bleak emptiness, outrage, and flat-out crying. It feels like the world shouldn’t be able to keep happening — yet it does, and every time I remember that we voted Out it jars me. This all feels like one big impossible nightmare.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m fucking disappointed right now. I am very disappointed. I cannot believe that my own country has chosen xenophobia and uncertainty for the sake of non–arguments like: ‘take our country back’, ‘make Britain great again’ etc. I despise the numbers of people who voted to Leave. I believe passionately that staying in the EU is the better choice, and I think this is catastrophic. Our country is…well we’re pretty fucked right now. We’re left with Farage in victory and potentially the idiotic Boris Johnson running for PM. You know you’ve made a bad turn when Trump and Putin approve of your decision.

It seems bad. I cried when I saw the news on Friday. I feel more sad right now than I have felt in as long as I remember. I watched my future plans slide away from me as the results came into the television. And the worst part was that I couldn’t even do anything — the people voting Leave were by and large the older generation. That was an utterly selfish vote. It’s us who will have to pick up the pieces. If anyone dares to tell me that young people don’t care about politics, I swear that I will hit something.

I fear a lot for myself and for many other young people. This is going to affect our lives in so many ways. I’m also pretty upset because Brexit is undoubtedly a bad thing for LGBTQ+ rights, and it kind of shadowed Saturday’s Pride. (Next year, I swear, I AM GOING. Instead of just sort of skulking around central London ‘by coincidence’.) (I did actually have a Guides thing, to be fair, but I ardently wish I had gone.) We’re facing the implosion of the Labour party and a probably more right-wing PM than we had before. I’m not a fan of Cameron, but quite frankly he’s the best of the Tories.

But although I am shocked and angry: we must not lose hope. This is not the end of the world. We’re going to survive. Although following the murder of the wonderful Jo Cox it may seem like we’ve gone into war, we haven’t. The vote was very, very split, and hopefully they’ll be able to take that into account. Perhaps when we go into negotiations we’ll be able to keep some elements of being an EU member. (Well, free movement will probably happen anyway, so you know.)

We haven’t left yet, guys. The fight is not over. Article 50 hasn’t been triggered and there are a ton of layers of bureaucracy to get through. No one should have the right to strip away my EU citizenship, and I’m not just going to let it go. This referendum isn’t even legally binding — I mean, they’re obviously not just going to ignore it, but it doesn’t have to be the complete final word. There are many petitions you can sign to — for instance — get a 2nd referendum with 60% majority necessary, or to require that £350 million goes to the NHS per week as promised by the Leave campaign. (Maybe London will eve become an independent city state…? Or we can all move to Scotland when it leaves the UK.)

Remaining in the EU was probably the first big political thing that I truly, passionately embraced. It’s such a shame that the xenophobia that’s sadly in many places worldwide right now had to manifest itself in something irreversible. I’m really scared for the possibility of President Trump but at least he can be voted out after his term ends. Following this result I feel even more determined to do something about the state of politics — I don’t want us to head in the direction of racism and ignorance. I want the media to properly educate people so that the don’t make bloody stupid votes for reasons with absolutely no foundations. I want the Labour party to get its fucking act together, thanks very much.

This is a sad time for us all. But there will be some positives to come out of this. Let’s remember that it’s okay, we’re okay, and we’re not giving up on Britain.

Thursday’s EU Referendum // do i stay or do i go?

The referendum that will decide whether Britain leaves the EU is coming up this Thursday. I can’t vote — and I wouldn’t be able to vote even if they did allow 16-year-olds — but I feel like this is one of the most important decisions yet in my life. I’ve seen over the last year I’ve been trying to have greater political awareness, and the more I’ve read into this issue the more passionate I’ve become in my belief that we’re better off in the EU.

This post may not change anyone’s mind. It’s pretty late know, and I’m not exactly famous. Plus, three quarters of people under 25 want to stay in anyway so perhaps I’m preaching to the choir. But I the polls are incredibly close and feel so, so strongly about this. I want to be able to look back and say: I said something. I really hope it’s not from the perspective of a Britain out of the EU.

For any readers who are a bit confused: Britain is a member of the European Union. I mean, the EU is kind of complicated and I don’t know all the ins and outs, but it’s basically a political and economic union of various states. This mainly means we can trade easily with member nations and that free movement of people in the EU is allowed. The two main issues of this debate have indeed been the economy and immigration.

I don’t think the campaigns have been the best. Both sides have gone for really negative campaigns, which I think is such a shame. Remain in particular had such a strong case to present the facts logical rather than go for crazy scaremongering. But, putting that aside: I want us to stay in. I think that the Leave campaign has really reminded me that there are people who don’t want to be inclusive. That it’s better to cut ourselves off and build a wall.

Perhaps that’s not everyone voting Leave. Obviously there are a lot of different factors. (Please do check out Em‘s post which explains the details a lot better than I can!) I’m sure there are people voting Out with a lot more legitimate reasoning. But in general I’m scared by the idea that we need to ‘take Britain back’. I’ve seen our country, inexplicably, compared to the USSR by educated people…?

I don’t want us to return to being Good Old Britons who sneer and hate foreigners. That’s not how we should be thinking. Yes, Britain is still a democracy; no, the EU is not going to remove our voting rights.(It placed sanctions on the current Polish government because they are doing some very shifty things. Like messing around with the Supreme Court. It’s not a ‘mildly conservative government’, guys.) In particular the EU does reduce the effectiveness in some areas of law, but I think that the benefits outweigh that. We can’t be all take and no give. There are lots of great EU policies! Worker’s rights. The environment. It’s not all doom, gloom and red tape.

I admit that I also believe we should stay for more selfish reasons. I want to be able to travel around Europe! I love that I could go for a day trip to France if I wanted. We can’t know the future of Britain or the economy, but most people agree that Brexit would mean higher prices for some time after, especially whilst we re-negotiate all our trade deals. I don’t particular feel like being a student during a time with both high prices and more difficult travel. Any of my current plans would basically die. Also, my parents’ jobs would be a lot worse and Boris Johnson would potentially become PM. He is a) extremely unqualified and b) not a nice person, so. I don’t love David Cameron, but he’s way better than a lot of people.

This post is not perhaps the highest political analysis you’re going to get. I realise that I’m speaking from a pretty privileged middle class perspective But I do believe, ardently, that Britain is better off in the EU. If we leave I feel the economy and security of our nation would suffer, and I don’t want us to reject all our ideas of co-operation and inclusiveness. We are not so important that countries will just make trade deals with us again. We are not so important that the EU will help us when we need it. Yes, the EU needs reforms, but you can’t change the system from the outside.

If you are able to vote this Thursday then I hope you make the right choice. And I hope that I won’t wake up on Friday to Brexit.

what’s your opinion on the eu referendum? in or out? (and does anyone else think ‘brexit’ sounds like a breakfast cereal, or is it just me?)