The first in an occasional series of weekend posts. Like you don’t have enough to read already..
I can hardly let the weekend pass by without some mention of the momentous decision recently taken by roughly half of the population of my home country. No I don’t mean whether to have curry or pizza on Friday evening. I mean the surprise vote for the so-called Brexit – a farewell to the European Union.
It caught many of us by surprise, since although there has always been a strong anti-EU sentiment in the UK, few thought it would actually result in us getting ourselves unhitched. Sure we’d bitch and moan about it, but not actually file for divorce.
Most of us Brits had some reservations about certain aspects of the EU. There were few fans of the unwieldy bureaucracy of this lumbering machine. It certainly got no love from the right wing Press who waged a campaign of hate against it from the start.
But despite our many issues with it, I thought most would see the sense of being in the league and working to improve things, rather than storming off the field in a hissy-fit and refusing to play any more.
In the aftermath of Europageddon, some people are only just waking up to the reality of what they have just done. A number of voters expressed surprise at the result and regretted voting out on the grounds that ‘I didn’t think it would actually matter.’ Others, mainly readers of that popular xenophobes guide to scapegoats, The Daily Mail, are only now discovering the various negative implications of their choice. ‘If only the paper had printed these facts before the vote,’ opined some. ‘We had no idea.’ Doh!
The age of voters seemed quite telling, with most of the leave support coming from the over 50s, and most of the younger generation firmly in the stay camp. Many young people feel they just got shafted by ‘racist nan’ and her chums from the social club.
Of course it would be very unfair to claim everyone over fifty voted leave, or to paint the exit camp as largely xenophobic morons, voting whichever way they were told by the writers of the Mail and The Sun ‘newspapers’. A lot of working class voters felt it was a blow for freedom and democracy. A massive middle finger to the wealthy and powerful elite.
Sadly this was misguided, leaving will bring few benefits and many huge disadvantages, as many leading economists and thinkers have pointed out. It feels very much like we’ve just voted to cut off our nose to spite our face. This referendum has largely been a victory for propaganda and little Englanders, not for democracy or common sense.
It has also sparked open warfare among both Tory and Labour camps, as rival candidates and factions seek to gain control of their parties, and of the good ship Britain. While potential captains slug it out below decks, the vessel steams (or drifts) into unknown waters filled with rocks, icebergs and other potentially hazardous metaphors.
The future of the ‘United Kingdom’ seems more uncertain now than at any point in recent history. Scotland didn’t want this divorce and nor did Ireland. And London definitely didn’t want it. Who knows how things will pan out, with the UK torn asunder by such a silly blunder..
With many expat citizens denied a vote through postal or local government incompetence (luckily I was not one of them), and millions more angry that such a momentous decision could hinge on such a tiny majority, the fallout from this debacle will continue for months or years to come.
It seems many Brits have tended to follow the mantra: ‘Keep calm and blame the EU / immigrants’, but maybe now they’ll have to face some responsibility for the nation’s problems. Or just find a new set of scapegoats.
As for me living across the choppy waters of the North Sea in little Denmark, I’m gonna have to start practising my Danish like my life depends on it. I’m not keen to return anytime soon to the increasingly reactionary shores of my homeland, I’m much happier over here with the sceptical but (hopefully) more pragmatic Danes. Vi ses!
© Copyright Jason Lennick 2016. All rights reserved.
Cartoon © Copyright Chappatte / International New York Times 2016