At 3:40am last Friday morning Britain’s decision to leave the EU was confirmed and the state of the United Kingdom as we know it changed forever. Brexit has caused a massive outpouring of joy, anger, fear and grief all at once and sent our political system into complete disarray.
For the majority, Brexit was a decision made in anger; that much everyone can agree on. Angry Britons who had nothing more to lose gambled with the future of our country. The people at the top, shockingly, did not take notice of the people at the bottom who are starving, jobless, homeless and fearless and now our country is in a perpetual state of crisis.
Those who voted Remain should be allowed to be angry and nor should they be chastised for grieving. However, this grief should be short; a week after the referendum we cannot afford to still be sore and fight with those who voted differently to us. This country is in a mess and the only way that it will be fixed is if we put our grievances aside and pull together.
Looking back at all the other crises that Britain has faced in history the ones that spring to mind are those that occurred in the last century: the First World War, the Great Depression, the Second World War, the Suez Crisis, the economic collapse of the 1980s and the 2008 recession. Somehow Britain managed to overcome and it is not that hard to see why; the British people pulled together, the government listened and the country moved forward as one. Right now is not the time for burying our heads in the sand, crying into our glasses or ranting on Twitter but for getting involved in local government, engaging with the new situation (or indeed, ever changing situations), watching/reading the news, discussing ideas with people whose opinions differ from our own and forcing the government to see us, hear us and speak for us.
Brexit is not what everyone wanted and, yes, looking at the map of the United Kingdom last Friday morning was both heart-breaking and terrifying in equal measure. Our country is broken but we must pull together to fix it. Nicola Sturgeon’s meeting with European Parliamentary leaders is not strong leadership but a rush to take advantage of the situation in order to achieve her dream. Yes, Scotland did not vote for Brexit overall but there were Scots who voted Leave and there are still Scots who do not want independence. Breaking up the United Kingdom is not the solution to the Brexit crisis. A lot of the arguments that were made by the ‘No’ campaign in 2014 still stand and Scotland will not work as an independent country in Europe. Scotland needs the rest of the United Kingdom and the rest of the United Kingdom sure as hell needs Scotland.
Moreover, the spike in racism and hate-crime since the referendum result has been one of the most upsetting outcomes. Britain is a multi-cultural society today and we are a better nation for it. Engaging with different cultures is not something that should only be done by students on backpacking trips or once a year when we go on a fortnight’s holiday to a foreign country. Taking the time to speak to people whose backgrounds, religion and experiences are different to us is eye-opening, rewarding and, most importantly, it makes us better human beings. Anyone who listened to Nigel Farage’s vitriol or saw his Nazi-eque poster and took inspiration should take a moment to remember that he is a disengaged, privileged man who is married to a German.
This past week in British politics will surely be taught in future Modern Studies and History classes and the ramifications of it are not going to be absolutely clear for at least another five years. This past week has been one of the worse weeks that I have ever seen in my, albeit short, political life and I hope to goodness that I don’t see anything like it again. This past week has shown the true state of our nation in a way that a General Election never does and whilst it does not look pretty or easy to fix we must try and put our grievances aside and pull together. The future of this great nation depends on it.