On the morning of Friday 24 June 2016, it was announced that Britain had voted to leave the European Union by a 52 to 48 percentage split. 4 days on, and having had what was otherwise a very nice weekend, I am still shocked and angry and upset that the country has decided to turn its back on the EU.
I don’t want to commit to this being the last thing I have to say on the matter, the matter isn’t trivial enough for that. But I do want to try and make a commitment to moving forward in this new landscape. And beyond this, to getting back to trying to fix the mess the country was in as best as I am able to.
Despite spending much of the weekend working out how I was going to word this post, now that I am here my jaw is clenched and my hands are trembling and I suddenly can’t remember how to type or spell or use my words. It feels incredibly raw still, like a bad breakup instigated by a few rumours with little to no truth in them that got out of hand.
The dust had barely settled before Nigel Farage, during an interview on Good Morning Britain, admitted that that to state the NHS would get the £350m a week if we were not in the EU was a mistake. Out of Boris, Gove and Farage, Farage was the one I had some faith in perhaps wanting to give the NHS an increased cash flow but to hear him say that, and that it was a mistake for the advert to have been released, must have been a shock to many of those that voted leave. In fact, I have been shocked by the amount of comments and posts on various social media sites from people who voted leave ‘cannot believe that it actually went through’, that would change their minds if given the opportunity and who, since Farage’s moment of honesty, realise that if they voted on the basis of the NHS getting more money, they messed up.
Now, I still feel angry at the people that voted Leave. Whether it’s for believing the crap that newspapers like the well known right wing Daily Mail have published, or for being sore ‘winners’ over the weekend, I am still finding it hard to look some of the people who voted Leave in the eye. But I expect I will get over that in time. As people from both sides are now saying, the public has decided and we must work together going forward for the country to succeed. I don’t intend to jeopardise this country’s future by refusing to work with people who ticked a different box to me.
I do however, have one condition. That those who voted Leave, hold this and any future Government accountable to such a decision. If you voted leave because you thought the magical £350m a week could be better off spent on public services, I expect you to give the Government hell if they don’t. If you voted leave on the basis that you believe immigration needs to be addressed, and you find that unemployment rises, ask our Government why. And if the Government enter in to trade deals with Europe that means we continue to allow freedom of movement or paying a membership fee, that you remind the Government that in doing so, we no longer have a place at the table which makes these rules and are so worse off than before we left. In short, if you voted because of a promise or a statement that was made by the Leave campaign you have a responsibility to ensure that the Government see it through.
And whilst you are waiting to see if these things pan out like you had hoped, remember that people from both sides will fighting to ensure the rights of individuals, in both their personal lives and at work, are not lost or diminished because the rights put in place by the European Union no longer apply. That people will be fighting to ensure the Government does not continue to remove access to justice through the legal systems. And that people will be fighting to ensure that the Government stop attempting to increase the divide between the richest and poorest in this country. If you can lend your support to any of these causes, please do.
I honestly believe the European Union did a much better job of running Britain through it’s guidelines and regulations than any government we have had in the last 40 or so years, and only time will tell if a British Bill of Human Rights is truly up to scratch. But until then, I will continue to fight for what I believe in, for what I think is best for the country. It will just be within narrower parameters now. And lastly, more people voted in this referendum than the General Election. I expect even more people participated in some kind of discussion or debate about it at home, at work or down the pub. Please do let this slip back into political apathy. We need to use the momentum of interest gained and channel it, so that the Government is reminded that it is meant to represent us.