I sort of knew that the Remain in EU side would lose, but I kept hoping I was wrong. Early on in last night’s vote counting I knew the worst; there followed a restless and increasingly depressed night, as I tried to sleep and reached for my ipad to see what had happened next. (Perhaps it was a bad thing that after two days without the Internet, I got my new router hours before the voting ended… …)
I feel very very angry, but even more, very very depressed. Almost on the verge of tears. So depressed it is difficult to concentrate on anything else. Maybe this is because I live in Europe – that is, mainland Europe, but soon to be the Europe that Britain no longer belongs to.
When people say “You have a little accent”, I have always explained “Yes, I was born in England, but now I am a European”. Now what am I? What’s more, from 1 July I will no longer have the right to vote in British parliamentary elections or referendums. My daughter, Jude, put on Facebook that she “Is still European but trapped in a little England”. Today I told all this to my friend, Jacky, who built and looks after my pool. His response was I have to tell people that now I am a “citizen of the world”. But we went on to agree that Britain – and Europe are now in a complete mess. Like me, he fears 20 years of chaos with Europe at best emerging impoverished and diminished. He mourned the return to egotisical individualism and a complete lost of civic purpose.
Nobody claims anything other than that the European Union is deeply flawed, but for the reasons I gave back in February I have been firmly on the side of trying to sort these out from within. Ultimately I voted emotionally and philosophically rather than for economic or constitutional reasons. I fear religion and nationalism as two of the most corrosive forces in human history. I did NOT want to be on the side of those waving national flags and closing doors.
Now what do we have? A country divided in two: with the old Labour heartlands of the north – and Wales – become fearful little Englanders. We have cosmopolitan London (and urban cities populated by above average numbers of graduates) increasingly distant from these old Labour areas, plus the predictable Tory shires – and the Essex population.
Country divided into two? No, three. Scotland wants a second referendum and this time I don’t blame them. And Northern Ireland is in a mess, having voted I suspect largely along old religious lines and the majority wanting to stay in Europe (but I doubt if the Republic of Ireland wants to take on this can of worms).
Now all one can do is what the British political system disintegrate into chaos (I try not to think of power in the hands of the likes of Johnson and Gove – described most eloquently by John Major of all people), other European populists eager to follow suit and the world’s financial markets in panic.
WHAT A MESS.