So last week I woke up to be nicely horrified at the result of our EU referendum. I guess I had kind of been hoping that the media had been over-hyping the chances of Leave, like with previous general elections. But no. And it’s left everything in a mess
I had a few specific concerns about the exit from the EU. For one, I’m worried about what will happen between Northern Ireland and the Republic. I find it really difficult to imagine there being a border again; I was in Dublin the day of the referendum vote and it was the simplest thing just to drive down, but I can’t picture how life will work on this island if a bigger divide between the two places is erected. Would there be a border poll? Which way would I vote?
I was also thinking about the logistics of things such as passports and immigration in airports, the European Working Time Directive, the effect that a loss of EU funding is going to have on heavily-reliant areas such as rural Wales, the loss of the single market, and the real worry that Scotland is going to leave the UK.
With a bit of thought, I’ve thankfully gotten past some of these worries. It’s in no one’s interests for there to be any real tenable border between the north and south. The UK is RoI’s biggest trading partner, and people aren’t going to realistically negotiate any deals that leave more of a barrier between the two places. I’ll be applying for an Irish passport to help with those airport queues, but I suppose it’s unlikely that there will be a hugely significant change in the relationship between the two countries.
And apparently the conditions of the European Working Time Directive have now been indoctrinated into British law (I think), so I suppose that’s reassuring. Especially given the current government’s attitudes towards junior doctors.
At the minute it also seems like remaining in the single market is the foremost issue of importance on the agenda of Parliament in the future’s negotiations. Whether or not that’ll turn out to be true when it comes to the new prime minister negotiating these remains to be seen of course.
So I guess I’m making a degree of peace with some of the issues that will be disturbed. And to be honest while I’m scared about the economic situation, I don’t know enough to say for definite how much or how little hope there is.
However, there’s one theme of this whole thing that I’m really not able to get past. Since the result was announced, I haven’t been able to shake the thought that on this day, racism won.
I understand that there are plenty of other reasons behind wanting to vote Leave. Particularly if you’re in a northern mining town and feel disconnected from today’s politicians down in the London-centric South of England. Or perhaps you’re more in-tuned to economics than I am (not difficult) and can see this as a reasonable risk to take, that we can reach a higher peak on a fitness landscape if we just change x, y and z, and weather the storm of economic downturn until we get there.
But despite that, you have to be aware that there was a lot of scaremongering going on in the Leave campaign, with at times subtle (and other times blatant) xenophobic attitudes pervading their arguments. That immigration is bad because these “dirty foreigners” are coming in here, and a line needs to be drawn to stop this from happening. That Britain needs to be Great again, and the way to do that is to make sure that it only contains British people.
Racism happens every day, everywhere. And it could be a biased view from the media/the internet, but there are people arguing that there’s been a surge in racist attacks or events across the country since last Friday. I believe this is because a xenophobic campaign has won, making it seem an acceptable viewpoint to have that foreigners should leave our country. Racist people’s attitudes are legitimised, because now “the majority of the British public” agree with what they voted for. In turn, “the majority of the British public” can be seen to agree with the opinions that drove them to vote that way.
Far Right parties in the rest of Europe are looking on with glee. Le Front National are calling for a “Frexit” referendum, and there are similar Dutch and Italian voices. That’s what we need, isn’t it? More far right nationalism. I wonder which future dictator this current situation is providing the context to the rise of.
I just feel like humanity is really not worth a thing right now. Are we really so backwards and idiotic to not see people of colour as human beings with just as much right to be here as we do? My godson rightly said today about people in other countries that “we’re all a family, with God as our father”. While I mightn’t put the same religious slant on it, that sense of unity and knowledge that deep down we’re all the same is so important. So when I see these racist attacks or xenophobic slurs being thought of as valid opinions, it just sickens me.
I’m just really ashamed at us right now. 4 bloody percent.