There are few nights where I stay up past 4am, but yesterday was one of them. Stress-eating one chocolate bar after the other and drinking an unhealthy amount of tea, I was sat in front of my laptop with my eyes fixated on the screen, not-so-patiently waiting for the voting results of each district to be announced. When I was finally too exhausted to stay awake, the iTV reporters already predicted a 75% chance for leaving, so waking up to the result wasn’t much of a surprise, but still a huge disappointment to me.
Maybe I’m completely overreacting and perhaps not much will change at all, but this whole uncertainty truly makes me fear the future. Of course I’m not expecting the UK to suddenly change everything, throw all human rights overboard and start a war, but the thought of the currently conservative government being in complete control still isn’t exactly a reassuring one.
Fact is, that the EU secured things like the minimum wage, a period of notice, social benefits, LGBTQ+ rights, environmental protectionism and unity and peace between the European countries. Surely, most of this will be maintained in the future as well, but now there’s no guarantee anymore, which does concern me quite a bit.
Apart from that, the economy is also greatly affected by this turn of events, especially if there will be costum charges for importing and exporting goods again. The termination of many commercial relations will ultimately result in the loss of about 900.000 jobs, as predicted by experts from the BBC. Additionally, the value of the pound has already dropped extremely rapidly, which is especially critical for Brits (particularly pensioners) living abroad, who won’t be able to maintain their current lifestyle or even pay their rent if their money suddenly is not worth anything anymore. Hopefully this will all be evened out in the future, but at the moment, there is pure chaos and it will probably be a while till everything can go back to normal.
Another thing that bugs me is the fact that 75% of the 18-25 year-olds actually voted remain and only the older generation was in favour of leaving, even though the youth will be the ones to deal with the consequences. It is so saddening to see how lost, misunderstood and frightened many young people are today, considering it’s actually gotten to a point where many plan to apply for Irish citizenship to have a back-up plan in case everything goes wrong in their country.
I’ve also seen interviews with leave voters who said that they only decided against remain to protest against government, that they voted leave without really thinking about it and now hope the EU will take the UK back if things don’t work out or even that they put their cross for leave as a joke since it seemed so unlikely anyways. In fact, lots of people simply weren’t educated enough and only become aware of the consequences now that it’s too late.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is not very united at all. It’s older against younger generation, the countryside against cities and England and Wales against Northern Ireland and Scotland, who are now considering to split from them for good. (Scotland and Northern Ireland both had a majority for remain, but were outvoted by England and Wales.)
But what worries me the most is that, as it seems, a great deal of leave voters made their choice based on racism and hate. According to polls, immigration was the biggest factor for their decision and, especially in rural areas, people are still unreasonably hateful against foreigners. Just this morning, I saw an interview with an unemployed woman from Bristol who complained about EU immigrants taking away jobs and exploiting the NHS, but when she was asked whether she’d tried actively searching for one, she denied. Well, who’s exploiting social benefits now? For real though, the UK, as a matter of fact, relies on Eastern European immigrants because they very often do the jobs most Brits refuse to do, like working on fields etc.
The prejudices that are still stuck in many people’s minds are completely baseless and unfounded and I think that, particularly in this time of cruelty and violence, building borders instead of sticking together and uniting for peace is most definitely a step in the wrong direction.
On a more personal level, I’m also concerned about my own future. I fell in love with England the first time I went there more than 4 years ago and have felt more at home in the UK than in the city I was born and raised in ever since. Even when my English was far from being fluent and I had trouble communicating, I felt connected to the people of Britain whom I have always experienced as incredibly welcoming and open-minded. So how come so many of them now stand behind politicians like Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage? Nigel Farage, who promised to invest the 350.000£ given to the EU per week in the NHS instead and only 3 hours after the results came in, declared that that isn’t in fact true and that they lied to the entire country? Who claimed that this battle had been won ‘without a bullet being fired’ when Labour MP Jo Cox was literally murdered throughout the campaign?
Maybe politicians like him are the only thing that should be leaving after all.
As I said before, it’s still impossible to say how everything will turn out in the end, so we should probably try to make the best of it now that the decision has been made. I do not know whether I’ll be able to work and live in England in a few years without having to fear to be deported as soon something goes wrong or whether I’ll be able to stay there as long as I please; I do not know whether the gap between the rich and poor will have become bigger or smaller in a few years time; and I do not know whether this will lead to more prosperity for British citizens or to insecurity and instability, but I wholeheartedly hope that all my fears and concerns will be proven wrong.
I’m sorry this is so messy, this post was originally an e-mail to my German friend who asked for my opinion, so it’s quite jumbled, but I guess you still get the general idea. I also apologise if I unknowingly included incorrect information, please let me know if I did and share your own thoughts and feelings in the comments! What do you you think will change for the UK and Europe? Are you scared of what’s ahead or do you see this as a chance for the country?
Here are some links to posts that I think sum up the overall situation very well and give you a bit of an insight to people’s reactions: