Saturday, 25 June 2016

A New Vista

This blog is generally a bit detached from politics, but after such a seismic shift here in the UK, I feel that I have to address it.  In case you've been down a mine or on one of those unplugged holidays, you'll know that people in the UK voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union.  I didn't think it would happen.  On Friday morning then, I was devastated at the result.  I voted remain, as did the vast majority of my friends and family, as I genuinely believed that was the right thing to do.  I still do.

Rhondda 2013
The Rhondda where I live is a deprived area of Wales that has received millions of pounds in EU funding.

I've been going through all of the stages of grief - denial, anger, tears.  I don't want to leave the EU, and I am scared about what will happen when we do.

Personally, I have enjoyed lots of European travel.  My friends have studied and worked abroad.  I enjoy lots of European imports, from cosmetics to cheese.  In my professional life, working in health research at a university, collaboration with academics across Europe is really important.  I attended a conference in Greece last month, and many of the future jobs that I could have found myself in would have had European funding.  I know half a dozen people in European funded jobs, and they are now facing unemployment with the UK's exit from the EU.

This feels extremely personal, and we are feeling the impact already.  In the short to medium term, the value of the pound has fallen.  Those European holidays are looking a lot more expensive.  Friends and family who are in the process of house buying are suddenly scared it's going to fall through or that their mortgage repayments are going to increase.

I'm of course writing this from a fairly privileged position.  I am lucky to have a job and a mortgage, and while not rich by any stretch of the imagination, we are doing okay, we are not impoverished.  There are so many people in poverty in the UK, particularly in Wales.  I believed that voting to remain was best for them too.  Wales has received a huge amount of funding from the EU, but the average person on the street has no concept of that.  They haven't noticed its presence, but they are surely going to notice its absence.

One of my close friends voted out, and I had already rearranged to meet them on Friday afternoon.  For a moment, I thought about cancelling.  I wasn't sure I could face them.  I feel so utterly heartbroken and betrayed by the decision a small majority have made for us to leave, and I wasn't sure that I could sit there and make small talk without crying into my cake.  But this person is my friend.  They are my friend because they are genuinely a nice person, who isn't racist, who is educated and weighed up the arguments, and acted because they thought it was for the best.  Just like I did.  How can I argue against that?  So I went and met them, and asked if we could agree to put politics aside for the afternoon and talk about other things.  We did, and I'm glad.  Maybe one day we'll talk about our reasons for voting as we did, but on Friday it was too raw, we both felt too bruised.  They'd already had a lot of anger directed at them.  I'd already felt that I wasn't allowed to feel angry, that I was just supposed to accept it and move on immediately.

So now it's about adjusting to a new vista.  There is a hell of a lot of work to be done, with some of the most pressing issues being about getting some UK legislation in place for things that were covered by the EU.  Human rights, workers' rights.  It's going to take years, and is a bit of a complicated process.  A professor from Liverpool University explains the exit process from the EU quite well here, in a video that was put up on Facebook.

I truly hope that things work out, but right now it feels like we're walking down a cold, dark tunnel with no guarantee that there's a light at the end of it.

15 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for your post. Here in the US we have plenty of media coverage regarding the big picture, but I really was wanting to better understand how the average person was experiencing the vote to exit.

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  2. I've thought about whether or not to talk about what I genuinely think is one of the worst things I've yet seen in my lifetime, but I'm not ready to put it as eloquently as this and I just find it too painful. I'm still utterly heartbroken xx

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  3. I am sure there are so many people on your side of the pond feeling the exact same way as you've expressed so well here.

    The rest of the world was only able to look on in dismay as economic and social ties were broken.

    Suzanne

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  4. I'm heartbroken and just don't know why I (as someone who campaigns and door knocks) can actually do, I faced so much racism during this campaign it scared me. I fear the left is dead and Wales will be left to rot, run by rich, white old men who want the UK to be a tax haven. I had a little sob when doing my shopping in Newport today.

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  5. This is so well put. I was shocked and horrified on Friday morning. I didn't think it would happen either. I haven't got all my thoughts together yet but you have expressed your feelings really well.

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  6. The news came as such a shock to me as well. What struck me afterwards was that so many people are now googling things like "What is the EU," which is definitely something you should have known beforehand. Or the people who voted to leave because they thought it wouldn't matter!
    Not to be all American about it and make everything about the US, but it's definitely a reminder of the importance of voting.

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  7. It's just so awful - I'm a heartbroken remainer, like you, and yet am also aware that this will probably not affect me as badly as some other people. Such a stupid decision.

    I'm also already hearing about people facing increased racism here in England, as though the Leave vote somehow makes racist idiots think people agree with them. Truly awful.

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  8. Its been all over the news and the results are yet to be seen.
    It is one thing to read the headlines and another to read it from a person, in this case you, who is actually there and can see the difference. All I can say is that sometimes people vote with their heart and not with their minds.
    When I heard of the results I could not believe it either..

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  9. "They haven't noticed its presence, but they are surely going to notice its absence." To my mind, no line so succinctly or tellingly sums up this staggering decision, nor its far, far reaching impact on the UK, Europe, and ultimately, the rest of the world. Excellently said, dear Porcelina.

    With all my heart, I'm sorry that your nation is going through this upheaval and that it may have impact so many important areas of your life. Please know that we, your online friends, are here to listen and help in any way that we can.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

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  10. I awoke in my tent to hear someone on the campsite shouting "F8ck me, we're out!" Us, our friends, the majority of the festival goers and pretty much all of the British bands we saw were devastated. I really thought we'd remain. I'm already fearful of the implications, the nasty racial stirrings, the devalued pound and what its going to do for small businesses.
    At lunchtime one of our local Asian shops was fire-bombed. It's a disaster. xxx

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  11. Thank you for your post, my only concern so far was that when the UK leaves EU, do we need to pay custom fees (as I buy almost all of my clothes from UK). I know it's so much more than that, but I guess that was the first thing that came to mind, because it's the one thing that is personal to me. Sure, now that value of pound is falling, it's a perfectly good time to go on a shopping spree, but on some level it feels like taking advantage of the whole situation. :/ I feel really sorry and on some level terrified, as Finland is said to be one of the top countries that will suffer from this. It's not like we don't have a high level of unemployment already, but if it's gonna get ever higher, we'll all suffer from this. For now, it's you guys, but in the end it's everyone.

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  12. With all the drama going on in my private life right now this kind of passed me by at first, I didn't even realise we were out! I too am a heartbroken remainer, the thought of what may now follow.......

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  13. Thank you for this post! It is quite eye opening to read responses about this decision by the people it most closely affects.

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  14. That's a really thoughtful post. The news was a shock to me too. Being in the UK at the time, everybody we met started apologizing to us when they heard we were from Belgium. I guess nobody really considered this would happen. xxx

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  15. This post is extremely touching in a way, and, while somber, a nice addition to your blog, as it showcases a very true side to yourself and where you live.

    I am amazed by both your and your friend's level of maturity over the situation as well.

    Like you, I am shocked by this news. And I feel for those who are scared about their future plans. I won't lie, I'm terrified for the current situation in the US with regards to the presidential race, and scared what will happen if Trump becomes president. I would honestly look to leaving, and I say this even as my husband and I are house hunting!

    xoxo
    -Janey

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