It’s been just over a week since the UK voted to leave the European Union. The country very much seems to be in an odd state of flux. At least 48% of the population, particularly the youth, have spent the Brexit aftermath disappointed, disheartened and angry at the opportunities which have been stolen from them, against their vote.
Fortunately, optimists are now starting to pop up on my Facebook. Cheerily grinning and bearing the pound’s 30 year low, the plummeting stock-market, the falling economy and really just focusing on the positives.
For example, take this post from a person I like and get on well with. Essentially, this post says, I’m done with your whining, it’s time to get over it and focus on the future. It says that I should not be worrying about the uncertainty of leaving the stable EU, instead I must prepare to strengthen our economy, and think about negotiating future trade agreements. Not to mention those bloody immigrants, eh? Let’s sort them out asap.
Great! Just one thing though – really just one minor issue; I don’t actually know how to negotiate trade agreements. How am I supposed to prepare for that? I’m a 21 year old journalism graduate. Negotiating trade agreements is not my forte. I can write in semi-legible shorthand, and I can bang out a news report in 20 minutes. However, the closest I’ve come to negotiating a trade agreement, is the 17-year strong “one for one” policy that my brother and I automatically operate whenever we are eating two different flavours of crisps.
I am not a politician. Do you know who is also not a politician? Almost everybody who trudged to a polling stations to cast their vote. And, as has been shown by the reports of people who are reportedly now regretting their choice, on account of “not thinking we would actually leave”, a lot of people did not really consider the impact of the decision which they were being allowed to make.
And that’s okay, because, as I said, they were not politicians. There is also an unavoidable correlation between those who voted to leave the EU and those who have not had the same fortune as myself to access further education.
These people may well have relied on what the media told them. Worse still, on what actual politicians told them. Some politicians wrote on a bus that leaving the EU would provide the NHS with an extra £350 million a week? Sounds great to me, lads. A politician wouldn’t make that up, would they? They wouldn’t pull that figure out of thin air, they wouldn’t lie about spending all that extra money on the NHS, would they? Not our crippled NHS, with its huge waits to see a GP? Why would they lie about that?
But, they did. Within a couple of hours of the declaration that the leave campaign had won, Farage had already backtracked. Claimed he never said that about the £350 million and the poor NHS, let alone writing it on a bus. That didn’t happen. Nope. Stop claiming you voted based on what you saw on a bus! Everybody knows the first rule of politics: just because you put something on a bus doesn’t make it true.
So, how can I be angry at those who voted to leave, who have put our nation in this position, when they based their vote on the lies which politicians told them? None of these people had anymore knowledge than I. Yes, they could have done more research, but you can forgive them for feeling they didn’t need to when those who are actually in charge of running the country and the media, the supposedly unbiased, informative media, told them it was in their best interests to leave.
I do not blame those who voted for the Brexit. On the whole, it is not their fault. We, as a nation, were just not qualified to make such a huge decision as this one. That is evident from the sad fact that just hours after it was announced that we had voted to leave the European Union, both “what is the EU?” and “what does it mean to leave the EU?” were trending google searches in the UK.
The media, having been successful in turning half the population against immigrants, are now very keen to turn those who voted to remain, particularly the young voters, against the elderly voters who favoured the leave campaign. A divided nation is much easier to rule, it is in their interests to incite hatred amongst us. While you’re busy being furious with 92 year-old Dorris from down the road, nobody is blaming the real villains in this great farce, the politicians who exploited a nation for their own political ambition.
I’m looking at you, David Cameron, our soon-to-be former Prime Minister. You really wanted to stay in charge for another five years, didn’t you? But those pesky UKIPers, what with their casual racism and their persistent insistence that Great Britain should be great (white) once again.* They threatened your fragile rule, didn’t they? You got scared, scared that your party couldn’t win the General Election. That enough of your voters would deflect to UKIP, a party promising to close all our borders. And you couldn’t handle that, could you? Imagine that. Imagine if you hadn’t had these past 13 months as Prime Minister. 13 months in which you’ve been accused of ‘relations’ a pig, family links to offshore tax havens, and now, with Scotland and Northern Ireland both threatening independence, will probably go down in history as the leader who disbanded two unions. It’s been a blast, hasn’t it Dave?
The only way you saw of ensuring your continued power was to offer a referendum on our existance as a member of the European Union, right? You didn’t want to leave, you knew that our country is stronger in the European Union; and you must have known that we, the general public, were not qualified for the responsibility of making that decision.
But, scared, you offered it as part of your manifesto anyway. A last ditch attempt to try to keep your voters onside.
It’s a shame, Dave, because I am actually quite saddened to see you go. Had you walked over anything else, I would have rejoiced. Oh, it would have been great if you had had to quit when there was all that funny business with your mum secretly gifting you £200,000, in a manner that, accidentally I’m sure, avoided the £80,000 inheritance tax you should have paid on it.
But, to leave in these circumstances, I can’t quite celebrate that in the same way.
And then we come to the other Tory villan of the piece, Boris Johnson. Who announced yesterday he wouldn’t run for leader of the Tory party. Are any of us really surprised after his nervous, sheepish look at the post-winning press conference. He should have looked happy, but he didn’t. He looked downbeat and unsure, as if the reality of what he’d done had only just sunk in.
And whilst he proclaimed in his speech that:
“to those who may be anxious —whether at home or abroad—this does not mean the United Kingdom will be less united. Nor indeed does it mean that it will be any less European.”
Well, now the United Kingdom looks like it might be a little less united. It is somewhat hard to ignore that not one of Scotland’s 32 councils voted to leave the EU. They’re already pushing for a second referendum. Nicola Sturgeon has announced immediate talks to commence with Brussels for Scotland to remain a member state. Similarily, in Northern Ireland, where support is higher for the EU than in the majority of the UK, Sinn Fein renewed calls for a reunited Ireland. So, in summary, with Scotland and Northern Ireland keen to abandon the United Kingdom, it could well be said that the Kingdon will be less United.
Secondly, and this feels like it shouldn’t need to be said, but clearly it does: leaving the European Union is indeed going to make us less European. Geographically, yes, we are still going to be European. But we are almost definitely going to lose our automatic right to live and work in Europe. That alone makes us less European, surely?
The other highlight of the speech was when he echoed Cameron, claiming there was no need to yet invoke Article 50, the clause which will begin our exit. Having spent months trying to get us to leave, why was he no longer in any hurry?
And then there was the sudden Twitter blackout. Having tweeted on the morning of the election, encouraging people to #voteleave, calling for us to “make today our independence day”, and again after the polls closed, stating that democracy had been served, and then, nothing, until yesterday’s announcement. Is it possible that perhaps even Boris wasn’t too sure he’d made the right decision. Is it possible Boris, like so many others, had put political ambition ahead of what was best for the country.
*A side note, but for the love of God, the ‘Great’ in Great Britain literally only means big. We thought we were big. We had an empire. Please can we stop pretending it means anything other than big. Please. It never meant we were great. It will never mean we are great. I literally can’t take one more person on my Facebook timeline saying Great Britain will be great once more.