Saturday, June 25, 2016

It grieves me to write this

Something momentous has happened, and I'm writing about it here, not to inform or otherwise benefit readers, but to log it for posterity, for me to read and reflect upon in years to come.


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Grace and I were back at our house from Sunday to Thursday. The EU referendum was imminent. We discussed it as a family, read about it, watched TV programmes about it. We each knew how the others were going to vote. It seemed like a no-brainer to us all. The political and social commentators we read and respect had detailed all of the probable outcomes of a Leave vote. But we were not blinkered. Remaining was not going to be perfect, either. It, too, would have its fair share of problems. Europe's no more perfect than its constituents. But we felt that the presence of the UK in the EU put us in a good position to help develop the Union, help to iron out its crumpled bits and help to make it the best possible for all of its citizens. As Erini, an ex-pupil of mine, said, "The EU needs a lot of reform, in the same way my house needs doing up - but I can't do any repairs if I lock myself out!"

We did the shopping we needed, Grace did some sewing, I had the car serviced and MoT'ed, we voted, and we drove home to Kantara.

On Thursday, we woke up to the awful news that the UK had voted by a small majority to leave the EU. We were shocked. It was too awful to contemplate. All of the warnings given by experts in finance, trade and industry, politics, european affairs, history, had been dismissed as scaremongering by 52% of those who had voted. 

One non-expert Leaver said it all. "All the garbage about how we'll be worse off outside the EU is just that. People should stop rubbishing the country and realise that we will be far stronger outside the crippling undemocratic commission's edicts." He had no evidence to support those beliefs. I didn't realise so many thought the same way. I wonder if he regrets it today.

Two days later, we hear that many of those same people have suddenly realised that they'd done the wrong thing in voting Leave. They're saying they didn't realise it would have such devastating effects as they are now hearing about in the media. As if they hadn't been told. Some are asking if they can change their votes. They seem genuinely shocked at the enormity of the plight they've created. Shocked to hear that the value of our pound has plummeted. That we've already lost millions of pounds in stocks, several times what we've been paying into the EU annually. That their mortgages will probably cost more, their petrol, their holidays abroad. The value of their houses may well fall. Businesses are already saying that they'll move out of the UK to Europe. Unemployment will rise. Recession is likely. The list of possible consequences is very long, and very little of it is good. The bottom line is that this may actually cause the collapse of both the UK and the EU. And the Greatness of Great Britain seemed to be so important to those wishing to separate from Europe.

I'm trying to fight off the negativity in myself. I'm angry, I can't deny it. Angry that such ignorance can decide the direction a nation takes. I shrug. It's happened throughout history, though; it's nothing new. But my anger has to go. The Brexiteers have landed themselves with the same problems that they've landed the Remainers with. It would be foolish to suggest that they should leave the EU while the rest of us stay (though I can't deny that I find a certain attraction to the idea at the moment). We have to work together to turn this around, regardless of how we voted on Thursday. Without Europe, we have to be more interdependent now.  

I suppose this might be likened to a world-war situation. Life-changing, history-hingeing. But the UK has come through that twice. Much of Europe has. And there was recovery then, and redevelopment, healing and reconciliation. There has to be, now. And the sooner, the better.

As in the aftermath of the wars, there will be suffering. And there will be no quick fixes. It's a dreadful irony that many of the Leave voters will be dead before we're out of the mire - it was largely those over 60 years of age who voted Leave. What they will Leave behind on the day of their demise is younger generations who are still picking up the pieces of their parents' and grand-parents' ill-advised vote two days ago.

But pieces can be picked up. Things can be mended. At the age of 64, I'm hoping I'll live long enough to see a new, healthier, happier UK. I don't deserve it. It's not my right. But that's what I voted for on Thursday 23rd June 2016. And that's what I'm sticking with.

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