My heart is broken. Physically, I am displaying the following symptoms; dull ache in the chest, gut wrenching and knotted stomach. Emotionally, an overwhelming sadness. I can’t stop crying.
Last time I experienced these was when a significant long-term romantic relationship ended. Which means that I was actually in love with the European Union, and now our relationship has come to an end, I’m devastated. Not least of all because the break-up was not of our doing.
From outside my country I watched on helplessly as the right-wing press, and wannabe Hitler – Nigel Farage and wannabe Churchill – Boris Johnson (completely oblivious to the irony of their informal union), steared the titanic decision towards the iceberg. I cast my vote and hoped for the best. And then Thursday arrived. When Swindon’s result came in, I felt nauseous. This was actually going to happen. I stayed up until half past three, woke at five thirty and watched with horror as the truth was dawning. My country was rampant with rabid xenophobia, racism and idiocy. What the hell had we done.
No amount of logical and informed support from educators, world leaders, scientists, experts and academics could guide a terrified nation away from the idea that gangs of crazed rapists were coming through the Channel Tunnel to steal our precious teapots, remove us from our beds as we slept, put us out on the street and change the locks. And of course there were the tourists having a lovely time coming in dinghies to holiday in our hospitals and job centres. Seventy five percent of the voting population donned their bowler hats and marched into polling stations to the sounds of brass bands playing Rule Britannia, with an anti-MI5 pen in one hand and a scone with jam and cream in the other. And the majority of them voted to leave the European Union.
They voted to leave peace and unity. They voted to leave progress, they voted to leave community. And quite apart from the rose-tinted romantic notion that one day we might all live together in (almost complete) harmony; there are the practical aspects.
Not least of all the money poured into those communities that had long been forgotten by our own central government. Say for example in the north of England and Wales. Who, for some reason saw fit to vote leave (except it must be highlighted, Liverpool and Manchester who have received millions in funding and whose local authorities have made no secret of it). Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned there. Instead of glory seeking local MPs claiming ownership of those regeneration projects across the country, how ’bout shouting about how grateful they were for the amount of money that came from ERDF funding pot, in light of neglect from a succession of British governments, eh? I know this is a thing because I worked in local authority for nine years in a small seaside town in the north west of England. That town was transformed over a number of years from a shabby, sleepy town to a thriving British coastal resort once again. Thank you European Union. Likewise Cornwall, who has been kept afloat by our friends on the continent. (Who without any sense of irony have also publicly announced that they would like a guarantee from the government that they will replace the millions of pounds they were expecting from Brussels).
“We will be insisting that Cornwall receives investment equal to that provided by the EU programme which has averaged £60m per year over the last ten years.” John Pollard, the leader of Cornwall council.
You couldn’t make it up.
Likewise hundreds of areas around the country, where this money is a very real safety net, that now has been snatched away by the very people who benefit the most. But then, if you don’t have the relevant information, how can you make an informed decision.
And of course the more superficial consequences: cost of travel, free roaming, holidays, shopping……
And the not so superficial:
Within twenty-four hours, the pound dropped to a thirty year low, Morgan Stanley were rumoured to be moving two thousand jobs to Ireland and Paris, and two major financial organizations down graded the UK’s international credit status. Two trillion was wiped off the international markets, TRILLION. Farage denied the £350 million back to the NHS, Daniel Hannan retracted the claim that leaving the EU will reduce immigration (the biggest cause of the discontent apparently). Families potentially ripped apart. The PM resigned, Labour are looking to oust Corbyn, and the EU have said ‘get on with the formal application to leave, we aren’t mucking about’. Scotland are keen to separate themselves from the UK to protect their EU status, and there are questions about the border between Northern Ireland and Th Republic. France has said they have no formal obligation to keep refugees in Calais, and are happy to let them make their way to Good Ol’ Blighty…. and there’s a universal feeling outside the UK as it looks on at the chaos ensuing, that we couldn’t actually organise a proverbial piss-up in a brewery. It’s going to be a long while until credibility is restored.
So yeah, well played Grande Bretagne, well played. <slow hand claps for eternity>
This post could go on and on and on and on and on. But, I don’t think I can adequately express my profound disappointment and pain. There are no word. I’m ashamed of my country. I’m ashamed of what the outside world sees: arrogance, nostalgia, ferocious xenophobia, deep-rooted racism, and ultimately: stupidity. How easily led we were. How easily manipulated by the lies of Farage and Johnson. For Christ’s sake! Two caricatures of clowns pretending to be politicians.
My country voted to leave the European Union based on an outdated nostalgia for the grand old days of the Empire and such a misplaced colonial arrogance that the world is still in awe of us, this GREAT Britain. I lost count of the number of times I heard “they need us more than we need them” during the campaign….. I have my doubts (not so united any more) Kingdom.
That’s my biggest problem. The UK may be OK, eventually, but for me the sadness of realising my country is inherently isolationist, openly aggressive and hostile and hateful towards ALL those it sees as ‘others’ and damn proud of it. To see it turn in on itself as it upended and slowly started to sink; still snarling and snapping. That is irreparable. I will never feel the same again.
Again I say: I am heartbroken.