EU Cannot Be Serious
It’s a horrible thing to wake up one morning and find yourself embarrassed by your own country. Yesterday, I woke up embarrassed by my own country. Today, I feel embarrassed by my own country. Tomorrow, I’ll presumably feel embarrassed by my own country. Angry, of course. Upset, sure. But mainly embarrassed. Embarrassed that over 50% of the population backed the same side as Nigel Farage. Embarrassed that over 50% of us chose an anti-immigration rhetoric over collaboration and unity. Embarrassed to speak with my European friends, working in this country, who I might not have met if it weren’t for the freedom of movement offered by the EU.
What have we done? Seriously. What have we done? The European Union wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but in a continent that spent one thousand years before its creation fighting each other on battlefield after battlefield after battlefield and the 60-odd years since its creation sitting round a table and discussing things peacefully — I’d say it wasn’t too bad afterall. Good for the environment, good for travel, good for the economy, good for science, good for peace; yeah, I’d say the EU Headquarters in Brussels wasn’t quite the Death Star Leave campaigners were claiming it to be.
Were. Notice I’m already talking in the past tense. Were. Because, of course, it’s all over now. Done and dusted. The old people of this country have made their voices heard and, in doing so, doomed the young people who are going to spend the next 70 years picking up the pieces. Say goodbye to the European Union. Say goodbye to the United Kingdom as well, because if you think Scotland (who voted to remain) are going to stick around after this you’re living in cloud-cuckoo-land mate. Oh, and if you voted to Leave based on immigration you can say goodbye to our border control in Calais. That’s going.
“Take back our country,” they told us. “Feel proud to be British,” they said. Honestly, at this moment in time, I’ve never been more ashamed to be British. Right this second, I wish I was any other nationality but British. Bleurgh. British. Saying it makes my tongue feel fuzzy. Hearing it makes me want to sit in the bathtub and cry. Thinking it makes my heart sink like a bag of concrete. British. Why must I be British?!
So, here we stand. Staring at an economic disaster. Since the Brexit, Britain’s stocks have lost £125 billion. That’s the equivalent of 15 years worth of EU contributions. Cripes. There’s that bag of concrete in my stomach again. Oh, and what’s this? The pound has dropped to its lowest level since 1985. God. No. Make it stop. Please. Make it stop.
Quickly, find a pound coin. Hold it. Look at it. That coin is about as valuable as the fluff you get in your pocket when you forget to take the tissue out before putting your jeans in the washing machine. Dust. I’m fairly certain that dust is now more valuable than our currency. I’d get bagging up that dust now if I were you. In the dystopian Britain that lies ahead, those with the biggest bags of dust will surely rule us all.
Don’t even get me started on Freddos. You’re basically going to have to remortgage your house and/or sell your internal organs the next time you want to buy a Freddo. “£78.99 for a Freddo?!” you’ll exclaim, next time you’re in the newsagent. “78.99 for a bloody Freddo. That seems a bit steep,” and then you’ll shake your head mournfully at how mad the world is now and leave without buying a Freddo. Of course, traditionally, Leave campaigners could just blame immigrants for a ludicrously priced Freddo but that was before the referendum. Now, who are they going to blame for being Freddo-less? Themselves, perhaps? Keep dreaming.
Emotionally speaking, I literally can’t remember the last time I felt this bleak about anything. It was probably after the Red Wedding in Games of Thrones. Of course, I got over that one quite quickly when I remembered it was just a TV show and not something that actually impacts upon us in the real world like, I don’t know, leaving the world’s strongest economic union. When will I get over this? Soon, I hope. I’m already a bored of that bag of concrete in my stomach.
Despite appearances, I don’t want to finish on a negative. Because, let’s face it, a lot of us are feeling pretty down right now and additional pessimism isn’t going to solve anything. So, my positive message is this: let’s stay politically engaged. My instinct yesterday morning, like many people’s I imagine, was to curl up in the foetal position and hide under a carpet forever. But if we, as the 16 million people who voted to remain, did something like that then we effectively surrender our country to a small-minded UKIP mentality. And despite how much I hate Britain right now, I still believe that we can be so much better than that. We have to be, or else what’s the point?
75% of the 18–24 year olds who voted, voted to remain. That is something I find greatly reassuring as it is young people who will shape the world moving forward, and the idea that so many of them favoured collaboration with Europe over isolation is something that warms the heart immeasurably. A terrible result, no doubt, but the young people who voted to remain mustn’t stop trying to make the world a better and more united place. As Dylan Thomas once wrote: “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”