As the Brit™️ of the blog, you must’ve known that I was going to bring this up eventually.
I missed out on having my say in the EU referendum by a matter of MONTHS and I have a LOT to say about Brexit. Yes, I love to travel, I’m a student of languages and I love Europe (good writing is meant to be biased, ok), but there are plenty more reasons to hate on Brexit. Let us count the ways…
Here’s The Tea(U)
For everyone who doesn’t understand Brexit (join the club), sit back while I give you a brief 101.
What Is Brexit?
The referendum was proposed by the then-Prime Minister, David Cameron, in a bid to put the ‘European Question’ to bed* – being part of the EU has always been a HUGE issue for the UK, having rejected the offer of being a founding nation (typical British arrogance à mon avis) and then back-pedalling to join, sans founders perks, officially in 1973. This led to the first of TWO referendums on whether to keep our EU membership just two years later, with the country deciding to stay in (woo).
*I can’t resist a little jab here – between you and me, this was basically a way of trying to make the PM’s party more united. This referendum was meant to be a sure thing. Turns out, it wasn’t.
Almost everyone was confused about the referendum from start to finish. Both campaigns were run terribly (lies printed on the side of buses, Project Fear, really unclear debates), many people were clueless about why we were having a referendum in the first place, and it seems to me that most Brits didn’t really understand what the EU did for us, what we did for them, and why we should/shouldn’t leave. And the politicians didn’t make understanding this any easier.
It ended up as 52% voting to leave, 48% to remain: a tight result if there ever was one. This is essentially the reason why the UK is currently in this tornado of trouble. In the 2+ years since the “once in a generation” referendum result, thousands of people like me turned 18, and then 19, and then 20, making us of legal voting age by a good 2 years, annoyed that we never got our say in the first place, and no closer to cleaning up the mess. What’s more, with a result so close to 50/50, the whole country is divided, no one is satisfied, and who knows how many minds have changed since 2016.
Oh and, BREAKING NEWS, it was recently discovered that the official Leave campaign was actually run ‘illegally’, breaking the funding regulations, throwing up yet more massive questions about the legitimacy of the vote. Yep, America, you thought you had trouble…
I hate Brexit, in case you couldn’t tell. I hate what it means for my future, I hate what it has done to my country, and I hate how I was utterly powerless to do anything to stop it.
It was a close call, it is a source of nationwide confusion and it is a huge, huge division even 2 years on. And I can’t see a way forward.
What infuriates me most is the way that young people have been treated. I’ve always been switched on about politics – I don’t know many people my age that aren’t. Young people are such easy targets for accusations of cluelessness, apathy, naïveté. But believe me when I say, my friends and I know our $h!t.
Under 18s weren’t allowed to vote (bogus RE: once in a lifetime decisions), but we now have to deal with the consequences of this huge thing that none of us wanted.
It’s like being taken out to dinner at the worst restaurant in town, not being able to choose what to eat, and then being left to pick up the bill.
So, what could Brexit really mean?
When I find out, I’ll let you know. So far, we’ve had major financial businesses leave their OG HQ in London in favour of Amsterdam; the ‘Minister for Brexit’ (Hello, George Orwell called, he wants his lexicon back) resign after only turning up to, wait for it, 4 HOURS of talks with the EU in 2 YEARS (that was literally his only job); an unstable and uncertain government ever since; and, of course, continued confusion.
My future hangs in the balance. Will Europe be closed off to me because of Brexit? Will it be harder for me to live, work, and travel freely on my own continent like I’ve been used to doing for my entire life? Will we have another financial collapse? Will the NHS finally be brought to its knees as funding lessens, and the professionals who work there are deported, forced out of work, or leave for pastures new? Is it now forever impossible to be both British and European?
As a child of a multicultural society, a student of foreign languages, and a girl with a huge desire to travel the world, this is clearly a catastrophe. It’s even difficult to find comfort in the delicious irony that I was right all along, because, despite Brexit turning out to be what I knew it always would be – a messy, incoherent series of panicked political moves – this is my future. Not just my future, but the future of so many people like me, and so many people unlike me.
Writing this piece was a struggle. I’m so full of opinions and rage that trying to focus on just the Brexit basics makes forming coherent sentences impossible. Even now, Brexit is muddling my head and muddying my writing.
My bottom line?
I hate Brexit because I love Britain.
I don’t want to feel ashamed of where I’m from. I don’t want to be an ambassador for a policy that I detest. And I don’t want my future determined by a bad decision.
The morning that the results came in, I cried. I cried hard. Two years on, I’m not crying anymore. I’ll always be European, and I’ll always be British. But I’m still bloody miffed.
Let loose with your Brexit opinions/questions in the comments!