24 June 2016

UK Referendum on Our Membership of the EU: We Voted Brexit

This is an extra post to the normal schedule because I felt so passionately about this issue and wanted to share my own experience and opinions about it and point you towards some articles about the reactions to this referendum.

On the 23rd of June in 2016, the UK got to vote in a referendum on our membership of the European Union: whether we wanted to remain or leave. In the end it was annouced the next day at about 7:00am that we had voted to leave the EU.

Running up to the referendum

All during the Leave and Remain campaigns, as a country we've seen the worst side of some politicians and members of the UK.

The Leave sides main selling point has always been immigration and while that is a valid factor in out membership of the EU, the focus had become racist and just plain rude. While I have never been opposed to you if you supported the Leave side, if your only reason was immigration, I knew you couldn't have all of the information to make an informed decision and were simply listening to the scare mongers at West Minister.

Before the referendum, I had never liked the politicians who supported Brexit, but now I have seen them talk about the world with such racism and dislike that I could never support them or their cause. They always seemed to bring debates back to immigration and "taking back control of our country", when I couldn't see when we had lost control of our control while being part of a union which has made the countries more stable.

Although I always supported the Remain side, I found that even they were not making the best case for staying in the EU. With all the debates circling back to the EU, they struggled to keep the discussion intelligent and factual, ending up in arguments with Brexit campaigners. I have to give a special mention to Sadiq Kahn, the new mayor of London who supported the Remain side, as I think he was one the best representatives of the Remain side and he made sure the debates were intelligent, didn't end up as arguments and that the Leave side were pulled up on the lies they said. 

Tillmans ran a campaign for the Remain side throughout the run up to the vote which I really loved. They made posters, t shirts and social media images for you to download and share to show your support for the remain side. Tillmans EU Campaign.

By the day of the vote, I had had enough of listening to what everyone thought and the talk of the EU on the news because it was a bit too late to change most people's minds, I couldn't vote, and I was becoming worried that the country wouldn't vote remain which is what I wanted that to do. I continued hoping that my side would win and tried not the think about it because I think all the scare mongering by both sides had stressed and worried a lot of people, including me.

When the results were announced

I woke up after having a nightmare (surprisingly not related to the referendum) on the morning of the results, checked my phone and found I had a guardian notification about the referendum saying we were probably going to leave the EU if the votes continued like they were going. In the end, I stayed up to watch all the votes come in, refreshing my guardian live results tab and hoping that Remain would come out top at some point. It never did and it was announced at around 7:00am that 16, 141, 241 people had voted to stay and 17,410,742 had voted to leave, so the UK had overall voted to leave the EU.

Everyone I talked to was so shocked and disappointed with the country: my mum declaring she's not sure she wants to be English anymore. All the people in my sixth form couldn't stop talking about it and were all sad about leaving.

I watched David Cameron speak, close to tears, after the vote and resign. Although I have never been a supporter of the Conservatives, I did feel sorry for him feeling like he had to resign, because to me that really did highlight the unjustice of this. Everyone on the Remain side has simply accepted the UK voted to leave by a small majority and are being courteous by not complaining and by seeing how we can use this new situation to our country's best interests. This is not what would have happened had the vote been the other way round, the leave side would have demanded another referendum and blamed something on the way the vote has turned out, inevitably saying it was rigged.

This is probably what has made me most annoyed at the result. The Remain side has been so nice to the winners of the referendum and even though they have won, the Leave side are being incredibly unfair to the losers. It infuriated me how Nigel Farage felt that the best response to his win was to say that the "real people, ordinary people, decent people" had won; this I just found rude.

I have to say though, that I am only disappointed with the way that England and Wales votes and that I am glad that Scotland and Northern Ireland realised the importance of a union of friends in Europe and how beneficial it is to be friends and to have connections with like minded nations.

The world reacts

The Independent reported on Sadiq Kahn's response to brexit with reassurance that we shouldn't panic.

NME wrote an article about how the music world reacts in sadness to Britain leaving the EU.

What do you think about the result of the referendum?