On the 23rd of June 2016, the world changed, for me and for many who live and work in the UK, and for many more who are Europeans and further afield, whether or not they wanted Britain to Remain in the EU or Leave. The votes were irretrievably cast and the result, as we all know, is 51.9% OUT vs 48.1% IN.
On the day of the vote, I had a dental appointment in Birmingham and I was so distracted that I took a wrong turn which led me to Kingstanding, a predominantly white UKIP area. I saw many houses with the St George Cross flag flying. Even though it was irrational and very much unlike me, I felt worried, and a sense of foreboding. They are just football fans, I tried to reassure myself. But a sense of unease and fear somehow gripped me, wishing to get out of there as quickly as I could.
That evening, I went to bed with the initial poll telling us that it was 52% Remain, overshadowing the Brexiteers. Some of my friends stayed up all night to wait for the result. I was confident that the majority of British people would have the common sense to vote to stay, especially following the unspeakable murder of Yorkshire MP Jo Cox.
I was wrong. History played a cruel joke on me and those who wanted a stronger Britain within Europe. Overnight, the country became more divided than ever, as the whole country woke up to see Sterling spiralling down 10%, falling quicker than ever before, the PM resigning, companies pulling out of the country, people who voted LEAVE regretting and an on-line petition for a second referendum going viral, attracting over three million signatures in just over a day.
So the question we are all asking now is: what will happen to the UK?
People around me and in my social media circles are astounded, saddened, disappointed, depressed and fallen into despair! Some of my families and friends afar do not understand the full implications. I tried to explain, to the best of my understanding. I read articles by the Guardian, The Times, Independent and other on-line posts. Since I am a staunch Remainer, I do not read papers which are jubilant about the results plastered with the stupid faces of the likes of Farage, although you can hardly escape seeing his smug grin at their so called ‘victory’.
They are dragging this country through the dirty mud into darkness, isolation, small-mindedness, and hate. People are upset and angry, especially the young people. The young whose future is now bleak, limited and inward-looking. They are the ones who will suffer the most if the Brexit becomes a reality.
There are many expert analytical articles and posts out there in newspapers, blogs and Facebook posts. It is not easy to summarise what may and will happen, and I am not even going to try. Just an idea what kind of fears that are going through people’s heads right now, I am sharing a snippet of comments from a friend in London, with her permission:
Politics is like a pond and political parties are the water. Wherever there is a void in the pond, water will rush in to fill it. Labour collapsed in Scotland and the void was filled by SNP. The northern cities have a void, UKIP will exploit it. They will succeed if they can broaden the base and brand themselves as fighting for England. The timing is right for them as Scotland will go and Northern Ireland will go leaving England and Wales in the disunited kingdom. The political classes in the Tory and Labour parties have failed to connect with the people. We are in dangerous territory. Racial hatred is likely to rise whenever there is resurgence of nationalism. The politics of England will never be the same again. The question is will UKIP evolve into a moderate party that can keep the racists in check? Would it morph into a social Democratic Party that is leaning slightly to the right which is what the natural position of English character (as opposed to Scotland which is slightly leaning to the left)? Would it be able to attract sensible politicians to take a lead? The old politics of Tory and Labour is now broken. They are in serious danger and may disappear or recede at least faster than we think. UKIP has ambitions much more than simply leaving the EU. It is a milestone for them to take the crown in Westminster itself. If I am the queen, I will be extremely frustrated to see the disintegration of the United Kingdom, the potential of the ugly face of English nationalist fever tipping over in a now multicultural country where conflicts will be inevitable. The minorities will not lie down to take it.
Personally, I am too stunned bordering depressed by what had happened overnight and what will come next. I have lived in this country for 28 years and I love her dearly as my second Motherland and home. I am worried about her future, and what possible adverse effect on me both professionally as well as an open-minded, forward-looking individual. The day before the vital vote during an international conference, two Dutch presenters were talking about a Global Village for all, and two Belgium educators on Move Across Borders – commitment in a global perspective. I felt energised by that.
At this moment in time, I am losing my usual sense of optimism, and my view of Great Britain is no longer great.
Here are a few links for further reading: I want my country back.