Brexit: Britannia’s Stumble

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“Left out in the cold, cobbling our own shoes” or something like that. I don’t remember the exact phrase, but my father’s words to me leading up to the vote on the Maastricht Treaty left an impression on my 14yo self that has not left me, not for one second, even though it was over 20 years ago.

As someone who grew up in the growth and development of the EEC, then the EC, then the EU, it’s been as much a part of my life as anything else in Ireland. Without the EU, it’s clear to me, Ireland would have been locked out, looking in at the well-to-do folk, over near-impassable trade barriers that would have left us in the continual state of poverty that Ireland was ever so slowly dragging itself out of in the 1980s and 1990s.

And the UK just voted for that outcome? In the immortal words of Miley: “Well, holy god……”

I didn’t sleep last night. I usually go to bed around 6am or 7am (Pacific Time), but I couldn’t look away from the disaster that the voters of the UK were bringing upon themselves.

Correction: bringing upon themselves and the world by voting in accord with petulant, ignorant, and bigoted policies, by believing the bald-faced lies they were being fed, and shitting all over the future of the youth of the country.

I can’t even count the number of non-British friends I have living in the UK right now. Many of them are Irish. Some are French. Others are Dutch. Hell, some are even Polish and Canadian. And now none of them can see what their future entails, because their adopted home has (democratically) rejected them, their presence, and their existence. The UK has, collectively, said ‘get the fuck out, we don’t need you’. There are almost one million European immigrants working in the City of London right now.

Tell me, Britannia: what happens when a million jobs in one city simultaneously vacate? How fast can you approve a million visas? If fifteen goddamn *million* people told you to fuck off, how fast would you leave?

Tell me, Britannia: what will you do when the funding for your science evaporates? With your young folk choosing to live in a foreign country, rather than simply visiting for a year or two? I’ve seen the effect that needing a visa has had on families here in Canada, the fear of doing the wrong thing, or writing the wrong word on a document, or leaving the country (no matter how briefly) to visit family ‘back home’: how will you overcome all of that, given your bigotry writ large? I mean, you haven’t even the climate of Vancouver to draw people, nevermind the reputation for niceties, or food, or……..

Tell me, Britannia: do you now understand that your vote counts? That the cynicism that has pervaded your country has shaken the economy of the world, costing trillions of US$, of damaged livelihoods, of destroyed pensions? This isn’t a meaningless, abstract vote about a celebrity staying in a goddamn house, there are consequences to these choices.

Tell me, Britannia: how does leaving the EU steer Her Majesty to the left? Have ye forgotten Thatcher? How about Major? Are you labouring under the mistaken impression that the recent austerity policies at play in the UK are there because of the European Central Bank? Do you think that the people will simply be more malleable once they’ve had a (fresh) taste of poverty, of isolationism? Of economic collapse? Any socialism that shits on the people, of immigrants and workers, is no socialism that I recognise.

The pin has been pulled from the grenade, but the lever is still held.

There is a petition breaking all records in the UK: present a second referendum in two to three months time, by which time the ramifications of this vote will be truly felt. Let’s call this the “Are you really fucking sure about this?” referendum. And make it binding.

Give the citizens of the UK a chance to put the pin back in the grenade. Or let go the lever. But at least they’ll go into this vote with their eyes open.

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