I’m on holiday. And I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing with the whole Brexit fandango underway (and let’s be honest, it’s been a massive effing fandango) but it’s most definitely brought things home for me, even when away.
Let’s face it: the fact we have a democratic society is a massively amazing thing that should not be sniffed at. I religiously use my vote because other women fought so hard for me to have it, and though I’m not the most politically-minded person in the world I will continue to do so until I die.
HOWEVER. How democratic is a referendum that is built on lies and mud slinging? A referendum where the facts weren’t readily available to the people making the decision? Where, it seems, the facts weren’t even clear to the people leading the campaigns?
The coverage from our media stunk during the campaigns, and it’s almost worse after. You can’t explicitly tell your readers how to vote, as per The Sun (MAKE BRITAIN GREAT AGAIN! VOTE OUT!), and then inform them of how their pockets will be short-changed a week after. It is really horrific.
The same to our politicians. If you lied to get into a job you’d be made to leave it when you were found out, so why is this any different? And this is on both sides here – there was a lot of misinformation flying around.
The way I feel about voting is that I do it for the greater good. I do it not just in consideration of my own life, but the effect that it will have on people like me: single mums, young people who’ve already survived through one recession, friends who have settled here from other countries, friends from here who’ve made lives in EU countries. I make those decisions based on discussions and impartial research.
And that is why I voted in. I believe wholeheartedly for the future of our young people (MY young people, too) that a united Europe is better. I think separating ourselves from our political and economic continent will do more harm than good (hey, Sterling falling by 10%, anyone?!) and I can’t understand the rationale behind leaving.
I LOVE the fact we are able to be citizens of the world. I think it’s magnificent that I can hop on a train in Milton Keynes and be painlessly in France within two hours. Or I can scan my EU passport and whizz out to Barcelona in a heartbeat.
The Xenephobia, the ‘make Britain great again’, the racism and exclusiveness – I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of our magnificent, booming, characteristic continent, and wider world?
As I said, I cherish our democratic right to a vote. And as with any election I respect one’s right to hold an opposite and well-researched point of view. But only if that’s what your vote is based on: the respect wanes when that point of view is borne of discrimination, radical views and mis-information, which so much of this referendum has been. Put plainly: if your vote was based on some misplaced right-wing view of immigration or a skewed notion of ‘taking back Great Britain’ then nah, I’m not buying it.
Two months ago, as someone who is incredibly proud of their country and had not investigated Brexit properly, it would have been my first reaction to vote out, to vote for sovereignty: so I totally get it. If this was a vote for our Royal Family I would have been all over it – I love the history and heritage they lend to our society.
But then I researched and read, looked at impartial predictions, got to grips with exactly a Brexit would mean for us. And it terrified me. About as much as I’m terrified, now.
I write this from a patio in Greece where I’m drinking Greek wine, sipping Greek water, watching my kids frolic on Greek grass. I’m reflecting on the experiences I’ve had in this country over the last ten years; it’s given me a lot of piece, love and family. It distresses me to wonder if my kids will have these same opportunities to travel, work, and live lives that are outside of British boundaries.
I’m mourning the things this referendum has taken away from our country – the decency and love for our EU neighbours – though perhaps that was never there in the first place?
I worry what this referendum means for the future of love and happiness in our country, and when we’re travelling in what effectively feels like a rudderless ship, what it means for our politics and economy. In the short term I worry that my hotel bill this week has suddenly grown by 10%, the cost of my trip to visit my friend in the States next month, the same.
Our relationship with the EU needed to change, there was no doubt in that. But oh, really like this?