Thoughts on Brexit
Today I woke up in what felt like the apocalypse. “Call me Dave” Cameron has just resigned, the pound has reached a 30-year low (just in time for my summer holidays), £40 billion has been wiped off the value of the UK’s financial institutions and we’re heading for a recession reminiscent of 2008. Not to mention the politically motivated shit-show going down on social media all over the world. Hours later, I still can’t shake the sickening feeling in my stomach, nor the unsettling urge to burst into tears at my desk (but in all fairness, that could just be my menstrual cycle).
I tried so hard to remain tight-lipped throughout the lead up to this referenDumb. Having only recently returned to the motherland, I didn’t consider myself appropriately positioned to pass comment. This morning, however, I do feel the need to express my utter disappointment and disgust towards the xenophobic haze which seems to have taken over this country in recent months.
Disclaimer: I voted to remain, but I also wholeheartedly acknowledge and respect those Brexit supporters who made an educated decision to vote ‘leave’, based upon a well-rounded balance of factors. The rant that is to follow is by no means directed at them; rather at the seemingly countless individuals who voted out taking into consideration the current refugee crisis and its implications on immigration alone.
From the get go, this referendum brought out a very unpleasant side to both Left and Right wing politicians as well as the greater British masses. I never thought that in 2016 we’d bear witness to the shameful fearmongering tactics and downright isolationist propaganda campaigns such as those spread by Camp Farage (let it be known that I am all for prosecuting him under the Public Order Act if shit kicks off). Unfortunately, and perhaps inevitably, a myriad of distorted “facts and figures” spread like wildfire, and it seemed every man and his corgi was dishing out anti-immigration rhetoric at any given opportunity.
To my surprise (if not horror), the local pub was fuelled with “take back our borders” pomposity and enthusiastic speculation about Britain’s forthcoming “Independence Day” (I live in Windsor darrrrling, I thought we were frightfully pro-conformity around here?). I can’t bring myself to repeat some of the disgusting language I’ve heard projected at Britain’s refugee and immigrant communities over the last few months, but some of it has truly shaken me to the core.
My own mother (a woman who has spent the vast majority of her adult life living as an immigrant) sat me down and vehemently announced she was voting out on the premise that “We’re letting all the terrorists in,” and “Well I’m sorry, but it just isn’t our responsibility to rehome, educate and feed people from the Middle East.” It should, at this point, be noted that I believe it to be the first time she has ever voted or taken a mild interest in politics.
Family dynamics and Happy Hour banter aside, I think what bothers me more than the alarming prevalence of ignorance in this country is that we’re becoming a nation clouded by ethnocentricity and a pitiful not-my-problem attitude when it comes to humanitarian crises.
To those who voted based on the assumption that the EU’s immigration policies are placing too much pressure on the welfare system – just wait until you see the queues made up of white British passport holders who will very soon be claiming unemployment benefits when our economy goes to hell. I sincerely hope you don’t end up among them.
And to those of you whose vote was constructed on the basis of “keeping out the terrorists” – congratulations! You’ve just handed groups like ISIS exactly what they wanted – the disruption of governments, bodies and agencies that actively promote unity. If you think we’ll somehow be safer for this you are very much mistaken. 17 million Brits have each thrown a bucket of fuel onto a particularly worrisome fire overnight. Hear me loud and clear, Britain is weaker for Brexit. Perhaps what’s even more concerning is that nobody seems to care that we are now the ones demonstrating cultural vilification and promoting separatist values.
This is exactly the type of radical thinking and mass-scale witlessness that will see a victory for Trump come November. But hey, didn’t he openly support Brexit?
I appreciate that it’s not healthy to harbour disgruntled feelings for almost one third of the population of the country I live in, so here’s my attempt at reconciliation (cue emotive tunes): Britain, let’s pull the big top down on this circus and move forward together. The decision has been made, with enough resources squandered in the process. We can’t change it, but we can adopt a new attitude – an attitude that’s inclusive; one that fosters care and compassion for all humans – not just those who were born here. Let’s replace fear and animosity with love and support for one another during what are sure to be trialling times ahead. Most importantly let’s show the world and each other that we’re better than the outrageous bigotry and intolerance that has been dished out over the last few months. There is no place for it in 2016.
Please Britain, don’t make me want to Brexit you.
Cover via The Guardian