I wasn’t going to write a post on Brexit because this isn’t a political blog. It’s one about my experiences of being a Brit, married to an American and living abroad. But now Brexit is a pretty fundamental part of being British so maybe this is relevant. And I started writing a caption for an Instagram post and realised it may be a bit long for Instagram…
My opinions on Brexit are summed up nicely in this photo:
I did not vote for it.
I still struggle to understand why some people thought it would be a good idea. But here we are, a few days into Brexit. And I’m pleased to see the country has not burned down or sunk into the ocean yet… But there’s still time… (Do people really think this will happen??)
To give you a quick story behind the photo:
A few weeks after the UK voted in favour of Brexit, and everyone officially decided Britain was a goner, one of my closest friends and I took a month-long trip around Europe to celebrate graduating from University. It was supposed to celebrate “The Real Start of Our Lives”. But it felt more like a good-bye tour.
So when I saw that sign in the Netherlands I just had to get a photo under it… and a random person decided to crash it because there’s nothing like hating on a political vote to bring people together.
Everywhere we went, we were met with endless questions from Europeans, focusing on “what the hell were you guys thinking?” Everyone wanted to know specifically how we voted. As Brits, we were put on trial and judged based on what our answer was. It was a pretty intense experience…
And I totally understand why – in voting for Brexit, the UK raised two fingers to Europe and said screw you guys, we can do it better on our own. So hearing a British accent is gonna make some Europeans reach for their pitchforks.
While their anger makes sense, it’s important to remember that people are allowed to form their own opinions. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them evil or wrong, just different. While I disagree with Brexit I’m not going to get up on a high horse and say everyone who voted for it is insane. Having said that, I will now eat my own words and outline some of my issues with it:
No one understood what Brexit meant
On the ballot paper back in 2016, the question was,
“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
You coudl then choose, “Yes” or “No”.
It seems like a simple question at first glance, right? Well, that is exactly the issue. The question of whether the UK should remain part of the EU is NOT a simple or easy one, as we have now discovered through 3 years of trying (and failing) to organise it.
This question gave us no indication of what leaving the EU would mean in practice. As the UK would be the first to leave the EU there was no precedent or guide book – every guess was as good as the next.
There was a lot of misinformation
No-one in the UK really knew anything (or cared…) about what the EU really was. Who is in it? What laws come from the EU? How do they REALLY impact us? Most people had zero clue. Turnout in European elections to select Britain’s MEP (Member of the European Parliament) had been consistently low for years, never rising beyond 38%, significantly lower than the rest of Europe. So before and after the vote, searches like, “What is the EU” were consistently among the UK’s highest Googled terms.
This does highlight an issue with being a part of the EU as no one really understood its true impact. However, this lack of understanding gave Vote Leave in particular, the chance to say whatever the hell they wanted to win the vote.
For weeks, the country was bombarded with empty promises to free up more money to support the NHS, better trade deals and grand intentions to “TAKE BACK CONTROL”.
If the subsequent negotiation of Brexit looked like “taking back control” you need your eyes checked. And if the NHS gets the £350 Million as suggested by the infamous Brexit Bus, Britain can have my passport back.
After the vote, Vote Leave was actually found to have broken electoral law by overspending. Yet the end result of this negative, excessive, illegal campaigning is still standing and will dictate the future of our country. Excuse me, WHAT?? ( I’m definitely not still bitter).
No one thought it would happen
This is the biggest joke of the entire situation.
One of my clearest memories of the aftermath of the vote is a BBC report in which they were talking to people who voted for Leave. A good number of them said they didn’t think it would actually happen. It was more of a protest vote rather than truly believing in it.
Just take a second to let that sink in.
I’m willing to bet that several politicians who supported the campaign also only did so as a kind of protest. They never dreamed of leaving Europe, only of boosting their political career.
At the time, the Brexit vote was seen as a way to keep the Conservative party unified. I don’t think David Cameron, the Prime Minister at the time, would have agreed to such a significant vote if he thought teh leave campaign would actually win.
But here we are. The seemingly impossible is true. Maybe we’ll find out Wizarding World of Harry Potter is real? I need some good news.
OK, rant over.
There’s my opinion on this utter shambles. Documented on the Internet forever.
Maybe Brexit won’t impact our lives in any meaningful way.
But maybe it’ll affect those worse off in our society. Decrease the amount of talent that pours into the UK from Europe, and make those package holidays to Mallorca we Brits love so much more expensive (NOOOO).
Maybe the first few years of Brexit will just be a bump in the road. Maybe in leaving Europe, we will be safe from some future war. Maybe Britain really will become a land of hope and glory.
No one knows. Only time will tell. All we can do now is to strive to do our best.
While I (clearly) do not agree with Brexit, I’m not going to judge someone on one decision they made. Its time to stop burning bridges and fortify the ones we still have.
I may disagree with someone’s opinions on Brexit, but let’s have a healthy debate rather than biting each other’s heads off. If everyone thought the exact same way, it would be boring and there would be no opportunity for positive change. This does open the door for negative change, (cough cough, Brexit) but you can’t have the good without the bad.
And if all else fails, at least Brexit will provide a wealth of interesting questions for political science students for years to come…
And hilarious memes. Its the only way we can make ourselves feel better.