The Whole Brexit Thing

A lot of Americans have asked for my opinion on today’s EU referendum and I have usually explained that it makes me feel a little awkward because I no longer live in the UK and I am not in possession of all the facts. As the date drew closer, however, I thought long and hard about it and realised that as a British citizen I probably should have been more concerned with the outcome. I have done a lot of reading about the issue in the past few weeks and seem to have seen every bloody Facebook post from the supporters of both sides. Did you realise that if you vote in pencil the officials will erase your vote and change it? Yes that claim is doing the rounds online, I can’t even.

Initially I was rather ambiguous about the result, the EU can be very useful but it can also be fantastically irritating. We sometimes don’t understand Europe and nothing shows this more than when we finish behind a karaoke singer with a disco ball in the Eurovision Song Contest because all the other countries vote for their neighbours and we only have Ireland next to us. Thinking about it though, I can’t conceive of a isolationist United Kingdom that sits on the side of Europe glowering across the channel and pretending that it isn’t a part of Europe. We have always been a part of Europe whether we like it or not.

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There have been plenty of lies and scare tactics on both sides of the campaign but in my heart I want to see Britain as a part of the European project. Yes the EU needs reform but you don’t change the behaviour of your neighbours by ignoring them, you give them cookies and talk to them about how you can get to know each other better. The Remain campaign has annoyed me too by selling Britain short. As much as Europe has a lot to offer us, we have a lot to offer to Europe too, not just in terms of the fact that we are one of the few countries that pays in more than we get out but also as a valuable counterweight to the power of France and Germany and our unique perspective.

I think, overall, that I would rather the UK remain a part of the European project rather than isolating ourselves from the rest of the continent and making a decision that it would be very difficult to go back on in the future. I am not allowed to vote in US elections and the only country that I am on the electoral roll in is the UK so I feel like a bit of a plonker for not registering for a postal vote. If the Leave campaign wins by one vote then you can blame me!

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38 thoughts on “The Whole Brexit Thing

  1. To be honest, it’s been conducted more like a fake leadership contest for the Tories or a fake referendum on immigration. Being in Europe is so much more rhan how many immigrants should be allowed in! It has appealed to the lowest common denominator, it has been divisive on so many levels and it is hard to see how we as a nation come back from this afterwards. Poor Jo Cox may play a larger part in the result and aftermath of this election than she ever could have imagined. You should have voted!!

    1. I agree with you, it has been hugely divisive and it has all been about immigration and the cost of Europe rather than what we all gain/lose from the European project. I feel suitably awful for not voting!

      1. My husband, who was a polling officer, told me the result this morning & I didn’t want to get out of bed. He said people were influenced by rumour and lies. Apparently someone on FB wrote that people should take a pen to vote because if they used the pencil provided and voted out, their vote would be erased and changed! Hb said so many people were insistent on using their own pen!

      2. I saw that rumour going the rounds, what made me laugh is that they think the government is erasing votes, the government they want back in charge. Really shocked this morning.

      3. So many traditional Labour voters voted Out because they thought it was a protest vote against Cameron et al – well, look at the alternatives! People who fought and lived through the War must wonder what it was all for. 70 years of peace and now the right wing in Italy and France are demanding a referendum too. Workers/disability/social care rights were all gained via Europe – now what? And people voting Out because of the refugee crisis don’t seem to understand that under the UN convention of the 1950s all governments are obliged to provide haven for those fleeing for their lives. Nothing to do with being in Europe. One woman said she was fed up with the ‘antics’ of her neighbours during Ramadan, so if the vote was Out they wouldn’t be able to carry on like that!! Do you really believe that?!! A woman and her daughter didn’t know how to vote, so they tossed a coin! Sorry, I am a little upset, bemused, frustrated and…and… Oh and before 7.30 this morning Nigel Farage was already backtracking saying they wouldn’t be able to use the so-called £350m for the NHS and that the Leave campaign probably shouldn’t have said that! I’ll stop now. Sorry.

  2. Well said Tom. I was on the fence a few months ago and just wanted the whole thing to blow over as quickly as possible so I could get on with my life, my business and moving to Cornwall.

    I wanted Leave to convince me that there was something worth deliberating over. I didn’t really feel that Remain were speaking to me either. Thankfully, early on I found Full Fact and Scientists For EU. It was these two pages that firmly put me down on the side of Remain. Let’s hope we get what we both want and able to reform this organisation from the inside.

    I fear what will happen next if we leave. Whatever happens though, UKIP and Farage begin the descent into irrelevance from tomorrow 🙂

    1. Let’s hope so, the reform is sorely needed and I hope that should Remain win the UK will continue to push for it. As far as I’m concerned both campaigns did a pretty poor job of getting their point across. Farage being irrelevant will be the icing on the cake tomorrow morning! 🙂

  3. Maybe if the UK stays in the EU, you will win Eurovision on gratitude votes next year? 😉

    So sad and angry about Jo Cox. It seems like only female politicians get shot these days. I think it’s misogyny, but my husband insists it’s because women are more accessible, in order to hear their constituents. Men don’t care, as they already think they know everything. (His words, not mine, but I did laugh.)

    1. I don’t think we will ever win Eurovision again, it’s much too political haha. The news about Jo Cox was desperately sad and shocking because it was so unprecedented.

      1. I think it’s purely risk-benefit. On average, women are physically smaller and weaker. A man wanting to kill will find it easier to overcome a woman. Jo Cox was a small woman – very slight build and only around 5’1″ Same sort of reason that a lion on the hunt will choose the younger wildebeast or the older one who can’t move as fast.

      2. I could see that for Jo Cox, but I was actually wondering more about the rationale behind the other attacks you mentioned in England. Was the male councilor you mentioned particularly small, to be singled out? In the U.S., I would point to factors such as gun culture, lack of treatment for mental illness, and white male entitlement behind attacks/ threats. I’d be interested in thoughts on what prompted violence in the UK.

      3. It’s important to remember that these were not carried out by the same person or group. No two attackers have the same profile. I would think their main reason was personal politics – of both of them. It is unlikely that Jo Cox would have been attacked had she been a UKIP MP. He was a far right terrorist. She was a left wing, pro EU, pro immigration, pro-refugee campaigner. Take your pick, It could be one of those things or it could be all of them creating a lethal cocktail.

        He did not say “Die bitch!” or “F*ck feminism!” He said “Britain First!” Britain First is a racist organisation, not a gender one. It’s deputy leader is a woman (who, amusingly, has Dutch Jewish ancestry).

        Cox is the first woman politician to have been assassinated on the job in the UK, against something like 9 men.

        If Jo Cox had been a right wing politician, it is highly unlikely she would have been attacked by this man.

        If Jo Cox was a Joe Cox and all the politics were the same, there is still a strong possibility “he” would have been attacked for his politics.

  4. Well said Tom!
    I have been considering making a Brexit comment on my own blog, but have held off; you know the saying, “don’t talk religion or politics.”
    You have very succinctly summed up my mood as well, but at least I can feel good having exercised my postal vote, I’m currently in Italy!😂😂😂
    If the result is to leave by one vote, you’d better get your spare room ready, I’ll be on the next plane!
    Dookes

    1. Haha yeah I was debating the wisdom of a political post but I thought as long as I was as balanced as I could be and careful not to offend it would be okay. Time will tell!

      I’m glad that you voted by post (I feel suitably shamed) and I hope that you are having a great time in Italy! 🙂

  5. I worked with EU information for 12 years back and know a) how absurd the EU can be at times but also b) how wonderful it is. Cooperation rather than posturing with weaponry; consensus instead of domination. All rather wonderful, but tragically misunderstood in the UK, mainly down to hostile press that refer to things that ‘Brussels’ want to impose on Britain. There is no ‘Brussels’ other than the city, which generally (when I’ve been there) doesn’t tend to say very much, it being an inorganic collection of streets and buildings.
    What the ghastly tabloid press mean is that a FOREIGN (gasp!) entity is forcing nasty FOREIGN laws on the UK. But the laws are drafted by and voted on by representatives of all Member States (very much including the UK) covering all elements of the political spectrum. The only way to get legislation is by consensus, which means that pretty much all of EU legislation is measured and responsible, not pandering to one political dogma. So fingers crossed we’re still in the game come Friday morning, otherwise the UK is up shit creek and refusing to use a paddle with a CE mark.

    1. I agree that the EU can be both wonderful and awful both at the same time. The press is definitely culpable for a lot of the views we have of the EU as they never focus on the positives, particularly in regard to the environment and safety laws. As thejuicenut said, the media made sure the debate got bogged down in the lowest common denominator too! Thanks for sharing your opinion (which I fully agree with). 🙂

  6. I was pro-remain from the outset which is just as well because it was the worst campaign I have ever seen and they would not have won me over on that basis alone. ‘Leave’ went ahead in the polls because supporters of ‘Leave’ were actually proud of the fact, but ‘Remain’ will win, not through enthusiastic support but through dispassionate pragmatism. But you should have voted so we could be sure of the result…

    1. I agree, both sides were terrible and there was very little positivity in the campaign from either. From listening to the two campaigns the UK was screwed either way. I feel suitably guilty for not having voted!

  7. I agree we’re definitely better in than out, for many reasons. Yes the EU needs reforms, it’s far from perfect, but going it alone is not the answer. In the modern interconnected world we succeed through cooperation, and multiculturalism and immigration are realities the xenophobes will have to get used to. I cast my postal vote for what it’s worth and hope the majority of my fellow Brits were not swayed by the lies and BS in the gutter press.

    1. Well you are definitely a better citizen than me for bothering to vote! Going it alone would be a rather risky move in a world that is seeing so much upheaval at the moment.I too hope that the the BS in the press didn’t help too many people decide!

  8. Oh my goodness – I can’t believe it! Just saw the results of the vote. I NEVER would have believed it would happen. Sad day for us anglophiles…
    I do see how so many people are discontent with the workings of the EU, though, as I think the basic idea behind the EU and how it came to be is mostly forgotten. These days it all seems to be about which country has to pay for what, it’s over-regulated and it does seem to care more about money than human rights.
    Still, like Jason I think it’s better to be in but a shitload of improvement is required.

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