Why Am I Heartbroken After Brexit?
Without any doubt I am the biggest Britainophile in the Universe. On Friday, one day after Brexit, no one called me, all my friends knew that I am heartbroken. Why a weird writer and journalist from Serbia would even think about Brexit and even more, why would she be heartbroken? The last reason is that I plan to move to the UK this autumn. Now I even started to consider learning German, Spanish or French and moving somewhere else, but it would never feel the same.
Why am I in love with Britain?
I don’t know. It may coincide with the fact that I have had great English teachers in schools I attended. Maybe, if my parents decided that I should learn German or French, maybe Britain wouldn’t stick to my heart. My generation grew up watching television programs that were made by British guy for Yugoslavian television. Maybe he put some of that British sensibility into my mind that developed me further. But, television wasn’t that big at a time. Also, as a weird kid, I preferred to escape to books and indoor fun. I think that is when I fell for British storytellers which are without any doubt the best and I am still enchanted by British literature. We have also been astonished by Monty Pythons, Blackadder, Alo Alo, Fawlty Towers and other sitcoms. In my case, love for British culture started with C.S. Lewis and never ended. Not to mention music, movies, television.
During the horrible 1990’s when Serbian citizens under dictatorship faced isolation and media pressure, our cable service had BBC and SKY channels. It happened by some magic I couldn’t ever explain (and it wasn’t legal I guess). British television made me fall in love to journalism and by watching it I learned to recognize great professional standards. But, all those things were equally available to everyone else in my generation and only a few understood it and fell for British charm.
London and Britain represent everything I believe in — democracy, human rights, open society, cosmopolitism, capitalism in its best edition, interculturalism — simply everything I stood up for all my life and my country failed to implement. I never felt like I belong to Serbia, that is why I know how remain voters could feel in past month. Also, I never believed that Britain as a developed western democracy could fall for a populist like Nigel Farage and other Brexit campaigners. Serbia is filled with politicians like him (and believe it or not worse) and I can’t bare the feeling that he followed that pro-Russian eastern matrix that won over the Balkan, but some other Eastern European countries as well. Those people are pure opportunists, they manipulate, lie, misguide, just to get what they want. Leave campaigners served a classical populist menu, but I never believed Brits will ever taste a single dish from it.
Farage and other Brexit campaigners simply followed the manual that Milosevic and Serbian politicians are using since the late 80’s. Their campaign was seductive because they offered lies based on myths. They played with the lowest into humans using austerity and revolt of Brits with intention. They are full of patriotism and phrases like “we want our jobs and our country back”, while they make enormous profits offshore. On the other side remain campaign offered nothing; they were convinced that reason and arguments would be enough to win. Against characters like Farage, arguments can’t win. Nationalists are aggressive, loud, convincing and attractive to an average voter because they offer easy solutions, fake ones, of course. Often, by the time citizens realize they have been tricked it is too late. In time country turns into some kind of malformed patriotism that seeks new enemies over and over again. That is the only food that feeds it.
If Britain slides into racism and nationalism now, in twenty years it’ll have generations of xenophobic, aggressive people who will continue the big search for enemies Nigel Farage started. Search is ending within each other, dividing the remains of the country to patriots and traitors.
I just hope that progressive citizens, supporters of remain will find the strength to fight for the values Britain and Europe stand for. Britain voted to leave and it really broke my heart, but I hope and wish it will remain great.