Analysis, observation and informed opinion on modern British, American & African cultures, society and politics.
Search This Blog
A sad day as Britain decides to leave the EU
On June 23rd, 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Although the vote was close at 59.1% in favour of leaving and 48.9% voting to stay (plus quite a lot of regional variation), the reality is that the majority of Brits voted to cut ties with the European Union, a significant economic and political body which Britain has been part of since the early 1960s.
Very few, including those who campaigned to Leave, saw this result coming, a fact that has been made all the more clear by the about-turns and jumping of ships which have been taken place since, including the abrupt resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron.
Needless to say, I voted to stay in the EU and do not think that leaving is a good idea. Although the EU is imperfect, the solution from my perspective would have been to work on making things better rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water. There is simply too much for the UK to lose by leaving, and too many variables that have the potential to be damaging to the nation as a whole. I believe that those who voted Leave have overestimated the UK's importance to the EU by assuming that the EU will somehow crumble without the UK, and that the other member nations will be so keen to keep the UK that they would concede everything when it comes to negotiations, and have, conversely, underestimated the importance of being within the EU to the UK, particularly economically.
From a political perspective, all I can say is: shame on David Cameron for bringing this nationwide chaos to the fore. Being desperately shortsighted, he traded common sense for UKIP votes (UKIP being a right wing political party) and has now unleashed major damage - and perhaps future destruction - on his own country. Seeing the unapologetically bigoted Nigel Farage smiling with glee and claiming a victory is enough to make any rational person sick to their stomach; the irony is that Farage himself didn't expect the UK to vote to leave the EU, despite encouraging them to do so!
Looking at the breakdown amongst age groups, it's clear that the oldies of Britain have voted for a future that the young ones don't want. Sadly, it's the youth who will suffer from the results of this short-sighted, fear-based, low-quality-information orientated referendum - a referendum on *their* future, a future which them and their children will have to deal with long after these older people are gone.
Once the Leavers' celebration is over, what comes next? What exactly is the plan? With the uncertainty over the direction of the UK set to continue for the foreseeable future, how do Leavers expect the markets to respond? Have the Leavers thought through the possibility of the UK entering another recession? Will this vote be worth that?
Leavers - what is your vision for the future of the UK? Both on its own and in terms of its relationship with Europe? Do you think that you're in a strong(er) position now to negotiate with Europe? Exactly what incentive does Europe have to gain from negotiating with UK at this point, when they need to try and stop other countries from doing the same thing?
And, what about the social fabric of the UK? Have Leavers not just opened up the door to open and overt xenophobia and bigotry? Do Britons really want to live in an openly nationalistic nation: a land which has essentially been given permission to be hostile to people they don't like?
I hope that the people who said that Brexit would be good for Britain will hold true to their word on behalf of all those who have followed what their claims and statements. If not, Leave supporters may find themselves having to come to terms with what is a massive hoodwinking.
And, finally, with so much fear about being controlled by elites, perhaps the next referendum be on the future of the monarchy?
[Essay originally published on What England Means to Me]
England to me means home. It means fond memories of school days; Sundays holed up in a pub drinking wine and eating a succulent roast while discussing the state of the weather with good friends; running to catch a train from Victoria station after a hard day’s work and breathing a sigh of relief once I’m on it and as the train rolls out of central London into the leafier suburbs.
England is what I signify to people when I’m abroad. My accent, my sarcastic sense of humour, my values and politeness (such as saying sorry when I really don’t need to) are all products of being brought up in England. “Oh! You’re from England!” people exclaim before asking me whether it really does rain all the time.
England is also a part of me that non-English people sometimes don’t understand. “Are there black people in England?” I’m asked that on a regular basis. Yes there are, but we clearly don’t fit into the idea of what Englishness means to ot…