Friday, 24 June 2016

On Brexit

I woke up this morning (having followed the referendum count on and off through the night) to the news that the UK has voted to leave the European Union.

I am devastated.

It's a strong word, but it is an accurate description of how I feel. Not because the majority of British voters have made a decision that I strongly disagree with, but because they made it for so entirely the wrong reasons.

Had there been a clean, factual, balanced campaign with respectable leaders on either side of the debate encouraging UK citizens to make an informed choice about whether the best way to work with our international neighbours was through the mechanisms of the EU or by some other (specified) means, I would have been worried and annoyed. But what has actually happened is so much worse than that.

We have been treated to the spectacle of some of the most privileged people in the country preying on the basest fears of ordinary people to convince them their troubles are caused by foreigners (whether they be politicians in Brussels or Romanian builders) and not the consequences of a global financial crisis or the government that they chose to elect. They have been aided and abetted in all of this by the British media at its absolute worst: nearly all the tabloids have been stirring up a "them and us" mentality based on half-truths and downright lies for decades. Nobody embodies this more than Boris Johnson, Eton and Oxford-educated (although ironically born abroad and a former pupil of the European School of Brussels), who had a previous career as a journalist spreading lies about Europe via the Daily Telegraph before moving into politics and who, having been one of the leading representatives of the Leave campaign, is apparently odds-on to be Britain's next prime minister.

I'm not upset and frightened because of what this means for me. I'm upset and frightened because these people have won and because it appears that my country is a place where the worst kind of politics can thrive.

5 comments:

  1. When the results started coming in last night, I thought of you right away because I remembered your articles on the topic. I followed the issue, not the campaign much though, few people talked about it in North America. Between Trump spreading hate and this... ugh. We need a better world :-/

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    1. Trump was apparently very pleased with the result :-( We do indeed need a better world.

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  2. Seems to me the UK should be focused on taking care of itself & their citizens instead of propping up weaker Euro states, same goes for Germany & France.

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    1. I don't agree with this comment, but even if it were the case, I don't believe that taking care of all UK citizens was the Leave campaign leaders' primary motivation. Nor do I believe that the ordinary people who were led to vote to leave will be taken better care of now. That's precisely why I have a huge problem with the referendum result.

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  3. That's exactly what worries me about the US election - Trump is playing the fear card and millions of people will vote based on lies and half-truths. 😢

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