The EU Referendum. An emotive subject…….and one that is still going to continue to cause unrest and discord for months to come, if not years.
I voted to leave. I’m in one of the age brackets where the majority voted to remain but I have never felt so strongly in all my life. I was never politically motivated. In fact, at one stage in my life I think I was stupid enough to vote Labour thanks to the totally misguided opinion of an ex-boyfriend of mine (note, ‘ex’!). My convictions have changed quite substantially in the last 5 years or so as a direct result of what I see going on around me and how it directly affects my life.
I have the greatest sympathy for the ‘remainers’. If the situation was reversed I would be devastated, I would feel trapped. But what do we do? What is the answer? It was always going to be a close call. In my heart I also thought ‘remain’ would conquer and I was scared for myself and this country. I, like many people, underestimated the passion of our country however and I was so proud when ‘leave’ succeeded…… and it was a fair referendum, everybody had the opportunity to vote, and there was a majority no matter how small it was. But it appears that isn’t enough. And to be fair, in a reverse situation, the ‘leave’ contingent would feel the same. The ‘remain’ side are now lobbying for a 2nd referendum on the basis that less than 75% of the population voted and the majority vote was less than 60%. If we look at a breakdown of the vote however, the majority of districts in England and Wales did vote to leave, and many had a majority in excess of the 60% (my own district had a majority of 65% in favour of leaving). The national result was a close call, but this was no doubt diluted by the Scotland and Northern Ireland vote. So lets say it comes to a 2nd referendum………. Are those districts which satisfied the criteria of the petition (eg. my district) going to be given a golden ticket which exempts them from having to vote again? Now that would be interesting, wouldn’t it? And should ‘remain’ win a 2nd referendum, it stands to reason that ‘leave’ will in turn lobby for a 3rd referendum (as I write this, the petition for a 2nd referendum has hit the 2 million signature mark; on the basis that over 16 million people voted to ‘remain’ I would fully expect this and for it to rise substantially further. But do you not think that a like petition by ‘leave’ in the event of a ‘remain’ victory would attract the same number of signatures?) And where does it end? Is it a ‘best of three’ scenario, or do we carry on and make it the ‘best of five’ referendums, or ten, or twenty…….and should it come to a fight, who can fight the dirtier? Personally, my money’s on ‘leave’. After all, based on the insults which the ‘remainers’ tend to resort to in my experience, us ‘leavers’ are all uneducated, short sighted, lower class numpties so we will obviously regress to our Neanderthal ways! (I’m actually a very well educated and intelligent individual but it appears that this is moot if you’ve voted ‘leave’ in the referendum.) And just to confirm, yes I would sign a petition for a 3rd referendum if ‘remain’ did indeed win, and I would join in any subsequent demonstrations in support of ‘leave’. So if the ‘remainers’ think a vote in their favour is the answer, I sorry to say it won’t be by a long shot.
It is reported that the majority of 18 to 24 year old voted to ‘remain’. I have personally been subjected to the opinion that I am selfish in not supporting the view of such ‘remainers’ who class themselves as the future generation. I’m sorry but, notwithstanding contracting a terminal illness or being run over by a bus, I am hopeful I have a good few years left in me yet. It is to this end and for MY future that I chose to vote ‘leave’. My priorities are my family and my life. I have also heard the comment that us oldies have reaped the benefit of the EU during our lifetime but we are now ruining it for this future generation. I was a toddler when we joined the EEC in 1973 (not the EU – it is worth noting that if we were still following the original principles of the EEC, this situation may never have occurred). I have only really known a life as part of the EEC/EU. Although my life has by no means been awful and I have managed to maintain a decent standard of living, I certainly don’t believe this is all as a result of our membership of the EU. There have also been not so good times……….and these have become more apparent over recent years. I am constantly struggling to gain permanent employment. I apply for jobs that I could do sitting on my head and yet don’t even succeed in getting a simple letter stating I haven’t been shortlisted, let alone get an interview. I am also not a statistic that Cameron has been using when promoting that unemployment has been reduced – I don’t claim benefits or jobseekers because I’m not entitled, but I need a job so what bracket do i fall into?! I worry about getting my son into the school that’s literally a 5 minute walk up the road because it’s so oversubscribed. If I need to see the doctor, I have to book an appointment approximately 3 weeks in advance……fortunately they operate a drop-in surgery otherwise I could be dead before the doctor sees me! (ok, I know I’m exaggerating, but you get my point). I have spent countless hours sitting in A&E or clinics at the hospital with family members waiting to be seen because even if I have an appointment, the staff are so overworked and under-resourced they totally run over time. Now I could blame the government, the people who voted for the government (I didn’t), the EU, the Council, even my dog. But the simple fact is that according to ‘remain’, we’ve really had it good in the EU and it will continue to be good if we stay in. If that’s the case and everything is hunky dory, how come the country is in a mess, how come so many people are dissatisfied, and how come it’s even got to the stage of a referendum at all? And the biggest question of all……..what makes you the fountain of all knowledge that you can be so adamant we will be unable to prosper or succeed outside of the EU if you’ve never experienced a life outside of EU membership? Are you prophetic? Do you have psychic powers? I am proud enough to admit that I have no idea if we will succeed or not, but I’m willing to take a risk and I’m willing to accept change because it certainly ain’t working at the moment!
So then we move onto the ‘remainers’ argument that leaving the EU will negatively affect our economy. The EEC ultimately wanted economic integration for member states. Excellent. Very effective. Totally in favour. But they couldn’t leave it at that could they? They wanted more. They started impacting on peoples’ views and rights. They started getting power hungry. And various EU members feel it is within their right to be dictatorial and try to monopolise our thinking. In addition, the average Joe Bloggs cannot relate to the economy and how this is affected by the EU – it’s not a tangible physical issue that they can see in black and white or which they can see the direct effect of. Plus it is so interspersed with threats and blackmail that some of us can’t see the wood for the trees. I’m not up on such issues. I don’t fully understand it. It doesn’t mean I’m thick or stupid or that I haven’t delved into it. But when have you ever heard anyone explain it in laymen’s terms? When have you ever heard anyone explain it in a reasonable and non-patronising manner? When the CEO of that multi-national conglomerate talks about the negative impact leaving the EU will have on the economy and (their) business, what Joe Bloggs hears is another fat cat worrying about taking a hit on his £0.8M annually salary and perks……it may go down by 0.5%! Oh woe! Try justifying that to Joe Bloggs who can’t meet his rental payments or pay his utility bills, let alone even make the first step onto the property ladder.
So then we consider some of the other issues close to the hearts of ‘leavers’, some of which I have already touched on……..the NHS, education system, policing, jobs, immigration, freedom of movement, etc. etc. The UK has been floundering for a number of years. It has been very difficult maintaining a reasonable level of public services for a number of reasons – privatisation of such services which should have remained under government control due to their being necessities rather than luxuries (take note, the health service is a necessity, not a luxury!). People are living longer and the population is growing. That is inevitable. The government may imply that unemployment is reducing but I don’t see it. In 1987 I could walk into any number of jobs with just a series of o’levels under my belt. I’m now substantially more experienced and educated yet I can’t secure a job for love or money. Am I missing something?? So why on earth is anybody surprised that one of the most contentious issues for ‘leavers’ is immigration and freedom of movement? Why is anybody surprised that we are revolting against the influx of EU nationals coming to England? It makes absolutely no difference in what capacity you are coming here, whether you are working or not, contributing or not. The point is it is substantially increasing our population growth and ultimately putting even more strain on our (currently) public services. I welcome diversity, I welcome people having the opportunity to experience life in other countries, but it can’t be without boundaries or at the expense of that particular country’s welfare. The implications of any long term/permanent residency needs to be managed effectively to ensure we remain within the receiving country’s capacity and economic needs rather than compromising it. It’s not rocket science, it’s not rascism, it’s purely statistics. And as is inevitable, the negative aspects of migration and freedom of movement will gain momentum because it is something we see and hear about on a regular basis (and lets face it, it is human nature to notice the negative). Where I live, I see it everyday walking down the road when every other person I pass on the street doesn’t speak English and, with the exception of the odd few, they certainly don’t demonstrate any willingness or effort to integrate. Despite being a reasonably jovial, polite and respectful person, I am constantly met with rudeness, lack of manners and being barged into on the pavement with no due regard for the fact that all I want to do is pass them. They tend to congregate in groups so I’m in a losing battle from the offset. Behaviour does breed behaviour. There is a cause and effect. My patience does wear thin. And believe me, it is wearing thin!
I think it is magnanimous of us to see ourselves as a benevolent society (assuming this is peoples’ true intent) but how can such benevolence be extended to others if we are failing ourselves? And where does benevolence end and stupidity begin? Yes, we are a lot more developed than other countries, yes we are more prosperous and in a position to help compared to many countries, but there needs to be limits and recognition where situations are causing more harm than good. I liken the situation to the oxygen mask instructions when you go on an aeroplane. You don’t go putting the mask on your neighbour before donning a mask yourself; after all you’re no use to anyone or anything if you’re dead! The UK needs to put its own ‘oxygen mask’ on first in order to be of true benefit to other EU members/countries. I don’t expect this country to be perfect before we extend our help, but we need to be stable and we currently are not. And is freedom of movement the right way to go anyway? Does it actually solve any problems? Shouldn’t we be using our resources, expertise and skills within the UK and ultimately the EU to encourage and assist in the rebuilding of the less prosperous countries, thus making a thriving environment which their own countrymen can be proud of and want to live in? EU citizens want to improve their way of life and see the UK as a way to do this but we’re hanging on a cliff edge and we’re going to topple over with the weight of the population (if it doesn’t cause a revolution first).
I believe there are many of us ‘leavers’ that would have been happy to continue in the EU if they had listened and taken us seriously. But they DIDN’T LISTEN! There are many of us that agree with the single market but are averse to being held to ransom on freedom of movement but you WON’T LISTEN! There is great unrest in other EU countries over immigration and freedom of movement but they are STILL NOT LISTENING! The concerns of the little people could have been addressed and this situation resolved if THEY HAD LISTENED! This situation could still be resolved if the EU could forego their pride and arrogance, accept the main issues of concern (which are actually quite straightforward and transparent) and take effective action. But they haven’t and they won’t. Instead we have aggression and threats and a very divided ‘United Kingdom’. I hope you feel proud of yourself.
I haven’t got any miraculous solution to the current situation, and I am totally flummoxed as to how we are going to manage to get such a divided country to unite. But life still goes on, it has to go on, and hopefully the sun will shine tomorrow.