I’m an innie. Belly button-wise and also in regards to my stance on the EU referendum.
Last Thursday I went to work, listened as a twelve year old explained to me why majority voting doesn’t work if the masses are ill informed and then, on my way home, I voted Remain. I didn’t really worry about it. On the whole people are scared of change, better the devil you know and all that. Like many people, I felt pretty confident that we would not leave the EU.
Cut to Friday morning and my disappointment upon discovering the Vote Leave had won by a ridiculously narrow 4% margin. Our Prime Minister resigned, the pound dropped to a thirty-one year low and Nigel Farage openly admitted that his campaign had been based on lies. It was an all-round good day (note the sarcasm).
Before voting I did my research. I made a list of all of the reasons why we were better off in the EU. The EU helps us economically; it protects women’s rights, workers rights and all sorts of other rights; it allows freedom of movement to people wanting to leave Britain and those wanting to move to it, not to mention ease of access for those wanting a quick escape to the continent.
But it isn’t Brexit itself that’s got me in a knot. I’m hopeful that leaving the EU won’t be the absolute disaster we’re all expecting. Who knows maybe it will surprise us all. I’m all for optimism after all.
What is bothering me is the blatant lies and racism that Vote Leave built its foundations on. From a poster scarily similar to Nazi propaganda, to a £350 million lie, it was a movement fuelled by hatred that preyed on the most vulnerable and desperate people in our society. Obviously it’s not fair to tar everyone with the same brush, but no matter how much leave voters claim their vote wasn’t about immigration, they still supported an ideology that legitimizes xenophobic thought. Since then I have seen so many anecdotes detailing racial hatred on social media that I’ve kind of given in on life.
This week I’m so sad to be British. I’m sad that I live side by side with nice people who say ‘I know it’s bad what refugees have to go through, but we have our own problems.’ As if long queues to see the Doctor can ever be compared to the atrocities that refugees have to endure. As if the geographical location of where a person happened to be born can ever be more than chance. As if it even matters. We are all people and we all deserve a chance at a decent quality of life.
Britain has become an insular nation full of self-centredness and self-righteousness. A country that only looks inwards and never out, with a me, me, me attitude to life. Full of people who can’t put themselves in other people’s shoes and get their priorities in order. I’m not naïve enough to think that everyone can be perfect but I have always clung to the thought that good outweighs bad. These days I’m not so sure.
But ever the optimist, I’m smiling again. Looking down my Facebook wall post-Brexit has made me realise just how many good people I know. We can’t change what happened, we can only accept it and make the best out of the raw deal we’ve been handed. And we have to do that together. We have to work extra hard to be nice now. To be decent people, with our hearts in the right place and smiles on our faces. We need to make people feel welcome again and show the racists what tolerance looks like. It feels so good to spread love not hate.
Photo rights belong to Sophie Turner.