As I write this, it is a little over a week from the day my country voted to leave the union I have spent my entire life in. Cue the standard response “you cannot possibly know what life was like before, so you cannot know it was bad”.
That’s the thing though… throughout my entire life; the EU has only ever been good. Really good.
On a personal level, it is fundamentally a huge part of my life.
Throughout my childhood, I have been blessed with visiting so many countries freely, whether it’s standing on the Alps in Switzerland or at the top of the Eiffel Tower as it glitters and lights up the sky. As a 14-year-old on a school trip to Germany, I will never be able to accurately describe the feeling of seeing my family name etched into the monument in the WWII memorial cemeteries. Ironically, and sadly, nor the feeling of seeing the Berlin Wall crumbled and desolate, a symbol of breaking barriers all those years ago. How sad I feel now, that I am part of a country that wants to put up barriers and shut people out.
Livelihood-wise, my job is deeply rooted in EU environmental legislation; I work every single day with the Water Framework Directive, the Habitats Directive, to passionately try to protect our planet from harm. Who is going to confirm to me, that we will keep the essence of those directives, and not just fall into a state of disrepair? Go further back, and it is an EU funded scholarship that got me a distinction in my masters, allowing me to actually survive during the hardest year of my life without sending myself into further debt. It is that scholarship that I believe solely got me this job. I repeat, who is going to confirm that generations below me, will have the same opportunities?
I hear people echoing “we have our own money now, the government can give the money to this sort of funding”. Where is your evidence? In the week since Brexit, I’ve seen turmoil. Lead “Leave” figure Boris drove us into an iceberg and scarpered, Farage has announced he’s stepping down, his deed done and his court-jester performance in EU parliament completed. Labour MP’s staging an embarrassing coup, in which squabbling took the spotlight of the actual devastating result. And now, we have an unelected leader just become prime minister, and to be quite frank, I was at a loss of which of the evils I would rather. May; who wants to leave the EU convention on human rights, Gove; who massacred the education system after pulling a Caesar on Boris, Hunt who single-handedly made an enemy of every single junior doctor in this “Great Britain”. Meanwhile, xenophobic and racist hate crimes have risen, Brexit panic wiped two trillion pounds off the world market, Cornwall’s trying to beg back it’s funding, inevitable tax raises, and we may be plunging headfirst into a recession.
Yet, whilst I could honestly rant for ages about the disaster that has been “Great Britain” (possibly soon to be the Republic of Wales and England) and the absolutely embarrassment that has been our parliament, that is not what this post was about.
It is a plea. It is a plea with Europe. Please, do not shut us out. We are the young, we are the outward looking, we are the children of Europe that have grown up and loved you. Still love you.
I do not know what our future holds, and that is quite possibly the scariest thing about all of this. Please look though, at the 30,000 people that marched for you in London, that are still fighting. I have been told so many times, to “get over it, you have lost”. But this is more than just a win or lose situation. If you tell me to respect democracy, I do, but when democracy is pulling away your livelihood, your future and that of all those you love, you have to give me some leeway. Let me be. Half of my homeland has stripped me of my chance to live, study and work abroad. I am truly afraid that you do not understand the gravity of my situation, and this is far too important to be put down to a simple “losing”. I was fighting for a future of diversity, inclusion and tolerance, just like those I surround myself with. I am not tarnishing all with the same brush, but you cannot deny that people from migrant and British ethnic minorities are scared, and you can draw your own conclusions as to whether this is because the racists think they have legitimacy to speak out, as they think 52% of Britain backs them up. I am scared too. We have to respect the verdict, but please do not expect me to hide my anger and disappointment. The campaign’s have been based on lies that unravelled just the morning after, the UK is fighting within its own borders result, and the majority is so small. We are the 48%, and it is that very number that cuts so deep. It is not enough of a difference to pry away our citizenships. Look to Scotland, who whole heartedly voted to remain, and yet they are bunched in with the rest of us. We are the 48% and we are so very angry and sad. If you are not talking about this, you are not taking part in the most important conversation in our history. Please, let’s not leave just for the sake of ‘leaving’. Nobody has a plan. The leavers have left their responsibilities, and the remainers are remaining upset, nervous and waiting for some direction.
So, I beg, please do not write us off, we have not yet left, and we are still desperately swimming against the tide…even if it is getting us nowhere, we are still swimming. We need time to both heal our wounds, and regain stability and some ounce of certainty. So whilst we do, please do not lock and bolt the door. We may be knocking at it sooner than you think…