I don’t often talk about my personal views here – especially not politics – but today I cannot write about anything else. I cannot even begin to think about anything else. Those of you who aren’t living under a rock will know that UK made a very important decision yesterday and the result of that decision will affect the country for the foreseeable future. We don’t know what the effect of that will be – whether it will be good or bad in the long run. All we know for now is that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland voted to “Brexit” yesterday – aka leave the European Union (EU). Now I don’t know how much longer I will be able to call this country the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as some of the countries that form this are considering a split already, so I wanted to do so whilst I had the chance. We may not be the united for much longer… Or rather, perhaps we are divided already?
I didn’t expect this result – I always kind of assumed we would stay in eventually. I’m just as shocked as everyone else that we’re leaving the EU and that reality is slowly starting to sink in. It’s as bad – if not even worse – than people predicted and I understand the anger. But we’ve had over 24 hours now. As a country, I think we’ve wallowed in self pity in this time… Now it’s time to get up, brush off the dust and shake hands. It’s time to stand together, stand united.
No matter how you voted in the EU Referendum, I have no doubt that you are probably rather emotional about the results and the outcome. The winning party had a moment to celebrate before being on the receiving end of abusive, slandering comments as the the pound came crashing down. The losing party had a moment to cry and say “I told you so” as hatred started to spread faster than a forest fire. Those who couldn’t vote cried out about not getting a chance to have their say – especially the young people that wanted to “remain”. It’s heartbreaking to see so many young people engaged with politics and want to make a difference, only to be shushed and ignored. They never got a chance to have a say in a decision that will no doubt affect them the longest.
I cannot write this without tearing up. How I voted doesn’t matter anymore, how any individual voted doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is what we do as a collective. Over 17 million people have voted to leave and that decision is being honoured (as far as we know anyway). In that group are people who are suddenly worrying, regretting their decision and wanting to jump ships. Unfortunately, you can’t “go back”. There’s speak of a second referendum but there’s nothing to guarantee it happening or being honoured – it doesn’t have to be – and sometimes in life there are no second chances. Others in the Brexit party are hearing all sorts of abuse from “stupid” to “bigots” – sadly, often from friends and families.
Now I want to say this and I want to be clear about it – you can disagree with or complain about the result but don’t make it about individuals. Don’t abuse your friends, family, neighbours who have chosen to vote differently to you. Debate about it sure but don’t fight. We are all free to have our own opinion. I hate seeing relationships break apart. I understand it’s frustrating but please try to not let it affect your relationships.
Yes, a number of people voted without realising what impact their vote had – or didn’t even understand why. (Google has shown that “What is the EU” was one of the top questions asked as the votes were being counted – implying that voters didn’t even know what the EU was. And just look on twitter – there’s tons of people thinking we are out of Europe now. Let me clarify, we are STILL part of Europe, even if we leave the European Union. Totally different things here…).
But not all leavers are racists – the argument is that perhaps all racists are leavers. Don’t confuse the two. Voting leave doesn’t automatically make anyone a racist. Can we stop calling each other bigots now? And please, let’s stop being ageist too. I get the frustration, I do – but is there really a need to be so abusive about it? Same goes with immigration. Whatever people’s gender, age, race or nationality – let’s just stop with the personal attacks against people. Even if the pound suddenly triples in strength, people will never forget the way you made them feel.
I just had to get that out of the way as there’s too much anger and hate in the country right now. Yesterday we showed that we are not only dividing from the EU but rather, we are divided as a country… United we stood… divided we shall fall.
Yesterday was a sad day. Not only because of the result and the impact it had on us but because what we have become in light of it. Because some people made such an important decision without fully considering the consequences of it – or understanding how important this decision was. Because some people say they “didn’t know” what would happen but most of what’s happened was predicted, if you did some research to find out the facts. We might not have known how badly things would crash and the exact details of it but we knew the economy would crash, we knew Scotland would likely ask for a second referendum, we knew the 350 million a week that everyone kept banging on about wouldn’t suddenly be invested in the NHS… Hell, my dad and I both said that the Prime Minister would likely resign too. Nothing that happened since results was really a surprise – it was all expected to happen – and if I knew that from a bit of research, I’m pretty sure anyone could have found out too. So I don’t understand why people are so shocked about things like Cameron resigning or the economy crashing… They were likely to happen… What we didn’t know is how badly it would affect our economy, for how long or what we will do next… And what’s worrying is that we still don’t know. There seems to be no plan – did anyone actually consider what to do if we did brexit?!
Since yesterday, I have read statuses on Facebook that have made me cry. Some from Brexiters talking about the abuse they’ve received… Some from the remain party talking about all that’s going wrong with the country… But the worst of these were from some of the people who came to this country many years ago, worked hard every day, paid taxes, provided jobs, volunteered and have never claimed benefits… And I read each status they put up and weeped. Because they all said the same thing: they felt so unwanted. They have felt hated in the country that they call home.
I was always proud of Britain. We were a country that accepted people of all races – we still are. Brexit doesn’t change that but the propaganda around it has made so many non-white people feel like they don’t belong here. It doesn’t matter if they were born here, if they worked hard, if they started a business and created more employment by providing more jobs, if they didn’t claim benefits and put more money into the system than ever took out, if they paid taxes… none of that matters.
What matters is that they felt unwanted. This country made them feel that way.
I know these people won’t be forced out – they are British citizens – but they are questioning whether they want to stay in a country that makes them feel so unwanted. They are questioning whether they want to be British anymore – because they are suddenly no longer proud of Britain.
As many people have already said – and will continue to say – I want to tell them all and anyone else in their situation: you are welcome here. You always were and you always will be.
In theory, the leave campaign is to change immigration rules to become fairer for the rest of the world. If you voted leave because you wanted it to be fairer – and not kick out every immigrant from the UK then please tell them. Speak up and say that. Tell them they are wanted, tell them that you made this decision because you believed it would help – not get rid of – them. There’s no way of knowing right now if the new immigration rules will be good or bad in practice… but trust me when I say this, there will be people campaigning to make sure we can make it better for everyone. You are not alone in this fight. You are welcome and you should always feel welcomed here.
Now… the decision has been made and a lot of people are angry or disappointed. But whatever the outcome is – whether you supported it or not, whether you regret it or not – let’s just try to go forward and work together. UK can get out of this recession that it’s put itself into, it can find a way. But for that we need everyone to unite, to work together and to help make this country the best it can be. A lot of people are disappointed (or incredibly angry) with the result and most of us are uncertain about what exactly is going to happen… But my advice to everyone (myself included) is to take some time out, look after yourself and then look after each other – regardless of the other’s political views. Step away from social media for a while, accept what’s happening and decide how best to make it right (whether that’s campaigning for a second referendum or delivering what brexit wanted, that decision is yours. But do something for the betterment of the country, join with your comrades and let’s do something.)
To those who didn’t vote (when eligible): I’m sorry but take a seat and don’t complain. Because, by not voting, you choose to remain silent when you had a chance to speak up. By not exercising your right to vote, you have lost your right to complain about anything that this decision affects. If you want a say, go vote (you can even “spoil your ballot” if you don’t know what side to vote for – this is still a statement and it’s still exercising your right to speak up). I know some people couldn’t get to the polling station – despite trying for many hours to – and that’s slightly different. This is aimed at those who simply were too lazy to vote.
To those who voted leave: Congratulations, you’ve achieved your result. Now it’s time to turn words into action and start working towards making this country great. Don’t complain about this outcome, if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted. You made the choice to vote this way and now you (and all of those who didn’t vote with you) have to live with that choice. So if you do ever regret it (and I really hope you don’t – for the sake of all us), I’d suggest you don’t tell everyone on the news, like some of the leavers have. Because nothing pisses of 16 million people faster than someone from the winning party expressing their wish to rewind time and vote for the other side. If you regret it, do something about it that might help. If you don’t regret it, do what you voted for and believed in. Don’t abuse those who disagree with you.
To those who voted remain: You have the right to complain about the result and any outcome from it because you stood to try and oppose it. However, complaining doesn’t do much other than fuel the fire of hatred. Discuss and debate what we should do now, don’t belittle those who disagree. Campaigning for change might help. Uniting together, with everyone else, and fighting to make this country better will help. I’m sorry it’s not the result you wanted but for now, the best thing you can do is to help make UK great again. Figure out how you can make a difference and do something positive.
To those who didn’t vote because they couldn’t (but wanted to): I am sorry. I am truly sorry that you had no say in a decision that affects you. I have never seen so many passionate young people fighting to get involved in politics until this referendum. The future may seem uncertain but I promise you, you are not alone. Whether you wanted to remain or leave, there are over 16 million people (at least) on your side. These people will fight for what you believe in. What you can do is join them in that fight. Get politically involved as much as you can, continue the momentum, continue debating these issues, start campaigning if you don’t already. Campaign for your right to vote, campaign for the change you want to see, campaign to support the party you believe in. Because it doesn’t matter how old you are, what race you are or how many there are of you – every single individual has the chance to make a difference. Use the opportunity to have to make the difference you want to make.
Let’s look to the future. Let’s support each other. Let’s be compassionate. Support small businesses, support the working class, support the unemployed or homeless, support your friends and family, support your neighbours. Let’s spread some good in the country – let’s show the world that we can work together for the betterment of the world and for each other.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, this referendum has divided us. We may no longer be able to hold that name for much longer. But whatever you call yourself in the months to come, let’s try to unite and work together to create a better world for us all. Believe in Love, not Hate. Divided we will fall but united we shall stand.