Review Of The British Referendum On The European Union

I didn’t see this coming.

Just two weeks ago I bought a flat in London, so sure was I that we weren’t at risk of leaving the European Union. Now I write this article from a desk in what is likely to become a far less valuable piece of property in the next few years.

I guess it’s that kind of arrogance that set people against the EU in the first place. I’m a wishy-washy leftie, a middle-class property owner in London in full-time employment. I’m what people would dismiss as a “Guardian reader”, even though I don’t actually read the Guardian. Everyone around me is fervently in support of the EU to the extent that I didn’t see it as a risk to buy a flat in the build up to a generation-defining referendum. And that is perhaps why those outside of London are so against it.

Alongside me in the non-working classes are the politicians (I can’t believe I just put myself in a category with them. I feel so ashamed). Our determination to stay in the EU is informed and based on facts, but we have perhaps been a little too assured that things wouldn’t change. For Cameron to put this kind of risk on the country when he didn’t want it to happen shows the arrogance of the whole situation. That Corbyn didn’t fight harder to stay probably backs that up. It didn’t occur to them that we might not stay. It didn’t occur to any of us.

I suspect that is what the voters are rejecting, rather than the EU itself.

If people did vote to leave as a statement against David Cameron and his group of smug, ill-prepared, out-of-touch colleagues, then that feels like inopportune timing to say the least. I get that most people don’t have an emotional connection to the EU, but to cut off your nose, lips and ears to spite your face seems just a little hasty.

Since the result was announced Cameron has all but resigned. Of course he did. He just managed to take the UK out of a relationship with its biggest trade partner and legal partner against his will.

If his reputation wasn’t done for in the build up to Thursday’s vote (and it really, really was) it’s now way over that line. In fact, to quote the great Joey Tribbiani, the line is now a dot to David Cameron.

And of course, we’ve probably got that Donald Trump-looking clown Boris taking over from him, and Nigel Farage now has a sense that he is anything other than a fear-mongering stain on British society. We should be embarrassed.

But that hatred for those in charge doesn’t cover everything. Sure, this may have been an ill-advised statement against Cameron and the government for some, but there are genuinely others who don’t like the EU. They don’t like the idea of people outside the UK helping to make decisions about how things should be done. As I said yesterday, they are distrustful of those over Channel.

(Sure showed them with our rapidly declining economy, huh?)

But I do like the EU. I like Europeans. I feel a bond with people outside the UK as well as those within it. I don’t want to be a part of a country that isn’t a part of the EU, and ironically I now have less opportunity to leave it because of that. After staying up far too late to watch the results, I woke up this morning with a hollow feeling in my stomach, washed in with a hint of sadness and more than a little anger at those making a decision for me that I 100% do not agree with. It feels like fear has won.

I personally don’t relate to the British bulldog, islander mentality of “we’re England, innit, we won the World Wars, best country in the world, know what I mean?”. Part of my whole identity as a British person has been stripped away overnight against my wishes. This isn’t what I wanted. This isn’t the country that I was forced to buy in to at birth. I don’t like what my country is becoming, and I’m powerless to do anything about it.

Maybe that’s what it felt like already for those who opted to vote “leave”.

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7 thoughts on “Review Of The British Referendum On The European Union

  1. Andrew D'cruz says:

    I don’t think it’s a statement against Cameron given that he won an election last year- people trust him even if they don’t like him.

    He had little choice in calling a referendum I think as otherwise his party would have split- with that and the rise of ukip I think he was backed into a corner.

    That’s not to say I don’t have the same sick feeling and financial worry this morning!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. larnerholt says:

      Thanks for the comment, Andy.

      I’m not sure I agree with your initial point though. The Conservatives only got 37% of the vote in the election, and the referendum was a year later and after a shocking campaign from them.

      That said, I’m being pretty blase about pinning it on Cameron. What I mean more of is that it was a reaction to the system and governence in this country in general, rather than one individual.

      I get the sense that a lot of older, working class people feel marginalised and unheard, and as such were “reacting” to the situation around them. For some it may have been less about Europe and more about “I’m not happy with how things are going and this is the one thing I’m being allowed to have a say over”.

      I do agree the Tories were kind of backed in to a corner, but as the hours pass the more aware I am becoming to just how bad the campaign was from the “remain” camp. There was a huge reliance on people just kind of realising it was the right thing to do, rather than working in a narrative that would have convinced people to vote in their favour. I don’t think any of the senior leaders (and I think Corbyn may be as much if not more to blame than anyone) considered it would go this way and they’d probably do a lot of things differently if they had the chance. Not least doing more to appeal to youngsters and the Scottish, who both seemed completely in favour of staying but didn’t vote in great enough numbers.

      Jesus, this is turning in to another blog post…

      Like

  2. K.L. Allendoerfer says:

    I was traveling in Europe when this happened, saw snippets on the news and really didn’t know what to make of it. Thanks for providing context for me. Some people in the US are using it as a kind of cautionary tale to not get complacent about Donald Trump, drawing parallels between the kind of voter who would vote for Brexit and the kind of voter who would vote for Trump.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. larnerholt says:

      Yes, I would certainly say there are things that can be learnt across the world with this whole Brexit deal. I don’t think anyone really thought we’d ever leave, and there are apparently people who voted ‘leave’ who now regret it because they didn’t think it would actually happen.

      What has become abundantly clear is there a lot of people in this country (as there are in yours I’m sure) who have been forgotten by the political system and feel angry, so have voted on the promise of change without fully understanding what that change will look like in reality. And sadly it is probably them who will face the biggest brunt of the impact.

      I think what we most need to learn here is there needs to be an argument in favour of something, rather than just arguments against the opposite. By that I mean, and I’ll use a US example, is that it’s simply not enough to say “don’t vote for Trump because of X”, but instead, saying “vote for Hilary because of Y”. There’s a huge difference there and I think a lot of people in the UK have become tired of being told why they shouldn’t do things, rather than being offered ideas of why doing something else might be good for them.

      Thanks for your comment, always hugely appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

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