So yesterday was an interesting day: the unthinkable happened. The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. And no, I’m not happy about it. I’m heartbroken, I’m disappointed and I’m angry. A decision has been made that will forever change the face of politics here in the UK, across Europe and perhaps even the world. But those of you who voted LEAVE have just bought into one of the biggest cons in UK history and that became clear yesterday as the markets fells, the pound slumped and Nigel Farage admitted his £350 million a day figure would in fact, not be going to the NHS.
They also bought into the idea that immigration numbers would be cut: yet again another fallacy spread by the Leave campaign, which was highlighted in the BBC’s debate on Tuesday night. Head of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, asked the direct question to the Leave panel as to whether or not they had ever promised to reduce immigration. The answer? A big fat silence met with a bumbling response which pretty much translated as a “No”.
This campaign wasn’t about our relationship with Europe, to the men and women in the polling station, it was about immigration and nothing anyone tells me is going to persuade me otherwise. People interviewed as to why they voted LEAVE spewed out phrases like “taking back control”, “stopping them from coming over here”, “stopping immigration” and one misguided fool even voted LEAVE to “stop the Muslims from Syria coming here”… oh dear. Now I’m not saying that concerns about immigration weren’t valid reasons for voting LEAVE, but what people have failed to recognise is that this was not a single-issue decision. And for that, I blame the Leave campaign. They used people’s fears and concerns surrounding immigration to bolster their support without giving their voters any indication about what else would happen when the UK left the EU.
What about the very likely event of Scotland becoming independent? What about the tensions created on the Northern Ireland/Republic border, which is so tightly bound and relies on EU involvement? What about our passports? What about banking jobs already being moved out of London? None of these concerns were addressed by the Leave side. They had their single-issue to campaign on and used the complete ignorance of the British regarding the EU to push forward their narrow-minded, Little England agenda.
On the topic of Little England, people yesterday who were celebrating the result were adorning themselves in the St George’s Flag proclaiming that they had got “England back”. I mean, seriously? If that doesn’t demonstrate the rising of English nationalism which, I feel is vastly different to Scottish or even Welsh nationalism, then I don’t know anything that will. Not everyone who voted LEAVE is a racist, bigoted xenophobe – but all the racist bigoted xenophobes DID vote for Brexit. It’s clear that England and even Wales want to be outside the EU – although Wales’ decision makes absolutely zero sense as they will be the ones who probably suffer most – but Scotland and Northern Ireland do not. For that reason, I 100% support any calls for independence referendums and I might even consider emigrating to Scotland so that I can be part of the EU.
Regardless of what I write or what I say when debating this issue, the damage has been done. The country lied to and those who voted LEAVE will be the ones to pay the bigger price. We have lost one of our best Prime Ministers, something which I feel is one of the biggest casualties of this referendum, we have lost our special status in the world and we have become the sort of country that, at this time, I am not proud to be part of. I hate the thought of people across the world looking at the UK and thinking that all British people voted LEAVE.
I am one of the 48% that did not turn our back on Europe. I am one of the 48% that believed we would further prosper as part of the EU. I am one of the 48% that has had their voice drowned out by racists, bigots and xenophobes. The emergence of right-wing nationalism is something I am not proud of and something which must not be tolerated. I am scared for the future; I am scared of the prospect of Prime Minister Johnson, Gove or May furthering a right-wing agenda. I am scared of the inefficacy of the Labour Party and of the lock of support for the Liberal Democrats.
If being fundamentally opposed to and angry with the result makes me a sore loser or bitter, then fine. I’m an angry and bitter liberal whose values, ideals and beliefs were upheld within the European Union and whose values, ideals and beliefs have just been silenced yet again in the space of a year. I’m fine with being a sore loser. But today I have never felt less British, and more European.