Friday morning I woke to the news that the UK had voted to leave the EU. To say I was in shock would be putting it mildly. I spent the day moving through a range of emotions from bewilderment and denial to anger and frustration. By bedtime I had somewhat accepted the result but I still cannot understand it.
The UK did not overwhelmingly decide to leave the EU, virtually half the people who voted choose to remain. There is no landslide victory, no 'Independence Day'. The country has been divided. In families, work places and friendships across the country people are at odds. Politics is causing fractures in places it has never even breathed before.
In general it would appear that the younger generations very much want to be part of the EU and the older generation, who have seen the biggest changes to our cultural landscape, want out - many of them did not want 'In' in the first place. Of course this a sweeping, broad statement and lots of younger people will have voted Leave and older people voted Remain, but there is a pattern in the voter demographics which supports this age divide. I also believe a lot of Leave voters are rational, intelligent people. The decision made at the polling booth must have been fuelled by a sense of deep unhappiness with the current government and state of the country as I have struggled to find one reliable statistic, plan for the future or credible expert which supports their vote.
And we can't get away from the crux of what this vote has been about: Immigration. Boris may declare that immigration is not the issue, it is about control. But let's just be honest, it is about immigration. When every economic expert tells you it is a bad idea to leave the EU and you do it anyway because 'you just can't get an appointment in the Doctor's surgery' (a statement I have heard 4 times since the vote last week) then it is about immigration. Let's just ignore the fact that immigrants pay more into this country in taxes than they take out. It is no surprise the Leave campaign decided to omit that fact from their campaign leaflet.
I do not believe such an important decision should be made on a less than 2% majority. And don't even get me started on the fact that only 72% of people turned out to vote for one of the greatest political milestones of their lifetime. Both parties behaved badly during the campaign, but they are politicians so I don't know why we are shocked by that. But the blatant lies told by the Leave campaign, which can be easily fact checked, cannot be brushed under the carpet. In no other profession would you get away with this kind of behaviour. The people who voted Leave have been sold a lie and the campaign should be held accountable. Perhaps when the false promises begin to reveal themselves for what they are people will see they have been misled. Boris has already mentioned free movement remaining which will confuse those who voted Leave to get back control of our borders. Let's not forget the elephant in the room; the £350million a week promise to the NHS, the backbone of the Leave campaign, retracted just hours after the result.
We are now heading to a very uncertain future and whilst I hope it won't be a negative one, the sense of unity the EU was based upon is gone.
I believed in being part of something bigger than ourselves.
I believed in helping our neighbours when they fall.
I believed in living and working together, side by side, as citizens of Europe.
I believed we were all equal to each other regardless of the lottery of birth
What I believed in has gone. And no matter how much the Leave campaign U-turn and claim we are still part of Europe (just not the EU) we are very much on our own now, And I'm not surprised by that, half the country just stuck two fingers up at them.
I know we all have to come together now and make this work, the wheels have started turning and I can't see this being stopped now. So let's all put down our swords and agree to disagree on the politics and find some of that rallying spirit we British are so famous for finding in hard times, like when it rains at Wimbledon. If we don't we'll have to rely on Boris to make this work and we all know how that will turn out...
Artist, Baker and Blogger. Mum to my two beautiful, cheeky girls. Muddling my way through parenthood with equally cheeky Husband.