I’ve sat down to express my feelings on this momentous and hideous day, 24th June 2016. I thought it might be cathartic to write. Where do I start? I am devastated, disappointed, disillusioned, distressed, disturbed, downhearted, dispirited, despondent, disconsolate, dismayed, but not at all surprised.
If there are 64 million people in Great Britain, and 17.4 million voted to leave the EU, then actually only just over 27% of the population voted Leave. Yes, many of them are too young to vote. But as far as I am concerned, it was their future we were voting on. The statistics show that most young people, of voting age or not, wished to Remain. They, embrace the opportunities that being in the EU gives. They, are not dreaming through rose-tinted spectacles of a GB that never was. They, can see the potential for the EU to be tweaked and improved over the years – just as it always has been. They, enjoy being part of a bigger picture and having a voice in Europe.
I’m already hearing through friends and neighbours, of their fears for their livelihoods. Jobs and projects in all sorts of industries are funded or co-funded by the EU. So what happens to these? Well, hopefully the EU funding bodies will honor current projects and see the funding to the end. Who knows. But what of future research, dreams and prospects? I personally fear. It’s hard and competitive enough to bag a job in wildlife conservation, there just are not enough of them. Without that extra funding from the EU, I’m pretty positive there will be even less wildlife jobs. Which sadly obviously means that there will be fewer conservation projects, less wildlife and habitat protection and recovery.
A few weeks ago I did a little street campaigning in my home town on market day. Handing out Green Party leaflets that listed good reasons for remaining in the EU. No mention of migrants or wasted money. Just the truth. It gave passers by the opportunity to engage if they wished to. All but one were negative.
They were angry about the money that we send to Brussels. Trying to open their eyes to all the ways in which we benefit from that, failed. Trying to explain that we give so much because we are a very rich and successful nation, fell on deaf ears. Pointing out that they will never see that money make a change to their lives post Brexit; that the divide between rich and poor will continue to grow regardless – that didn’t work either.
They were angry about migrants. One man yelled about how a Bulgarian rapist lives on his street. How ‘they’ will not deport him due to freedom of movement. He was too angry to reason with. Otherwise I may have pointed out how being a Bulgarian did not protect him from a prison sentence. Another man who was also bursting with anger, shouted about how he’d like to put steel spikes on his boots and go trample ‘them’ to smithereens. I wasn’t sure if ‘them’ referred to the EU administration or all Europeans in general.
There is such anger and resentment. Where did it all come from? We joined the European Union 43 years ago. Have all these people been living with rage and resentment all this time? Have their lives been so utterly unbearable within the EU? Did it even occur to them to blame the EU for anything before this referendum was suggested. Or did 17.4 million Brits truly fall for all the misinformation, lack of real facts, and infectious xenophobia? Maybe a bit of each. But the xenophobia has been fiercely stewing for quite a while now. I wrote a blog back in 2014, that hinted at my fears for where humanity was heading. Farage has so much to answer for.
I admit, not all Leave voters are racist. But I have yet to hear a real valid justified argument for Leaving the EU.
If people thought that life was wrong, that life needed fixing, this was the absolute opposite way to go about improving ANYTHING. We are now a divided nation. We now have a worthless currency. We have no idea what the future holds. For those of us who spend our lives fighting to protect the environment, wildlife, and human rights – believe me, the fight just got a real lot harder.