When I woke up this morning, for a split second I didn’t remember that yesterday Britain left the EU, the Prime Minister resigned, London and other places wanted to be a Republic and there was basically no Opposition. Like when you lose a loved one, in the first few seconds of the day you forget, and everything seems as it should be, and anything else is just a weird dream. Yet as I opened the curtains and let the sunshine flood the room, I looked out the window at the early morning peace and quiet and noticed that usual knot in my core, present for so long, was no longer there. I felt a sense of openness and warmth towards myself and the world. I remembered what did go on yesterday, but today was a new day full of exciting opportunities. The first day when looking back is no longer an option.
The changes I have wished for are finally coming to fruition if not in the way I imagined or wanted. Sometimes the outcome does not take the path you thought. It is nevertheless the one that is best , even if we do not see it in the moment.
Since I was 16 I have wanted to live outside the UK as I have never felt like I fitted in or understand Britain. So on the morning of the EU Referendum results a sense of dread before I found out meant I wanted to pack my bags there and then. Yet paradoxically as the day went on and I talked it over with people I saw this was the first time I felt part of Britain. There are 16 million other people who felt the way I did. I have 16 million new friends. Even the 17 million who voted otherwise share many of my views of what is wrong in Britain. And if I didn’t feel like a citizen of the world before, I do now more than ever with a renewed solidarity with humankind.
Where there was embarrassment there is now optimism.
This was never about the EU and I happy that the truth is now clear for all to see, and all the cracks are bare to be dealt with, not papered over. Maybe a trial separation and some time out is what Britain needs for inward reflection. Of course it will be painful, but no real growth comes without pain.
For the EU itself it is also a blessing in disguise. Whether it survives as an institution or not, politicians from across the world are now understanding that listening to the people is such a basic tenet of liberty but one which has been forgotten.
Even if a petition came to pass so Britain had another Referendum, like the Irish pushing the Lisbon Treaty until they said yes, and we stayed in the EU, the voices have been heard. The figures of 52% to leave to 48% to stay would not be so hard to alter afterall. You can reverse most things, but words cannot be unsaid or unheard and emotions once felt cannot be unfelt. The problems would still need to be dealt with and the dissatisfactions still need to be addressed.
Suddenly I feel like instead of wanting to decamp to Sweden or Iceland I want to bring some of what they have to Britain. Let’s borrow from the best and create something new and fit for purpose.
All countries are experiencing the same problems, because we are all the same species, so maybe Britain can set the standard in new ideas. Running away from problems just makes them worse. This is exactly what is needed at exactly this time. Nothing is coincidence, and synchronicity brings its own rewards.
For the first time I have seen what real unity in action looks like, crossing ages, race and political affiliations. By dividing the results into how people voted is once again missing the point and creating more divisions.
Friends in their 20s and 30s voted to leave the EU or didn’t vote at all, whilst people I know in their 80s are diehard Europhiles and Liberals who voted to Stay. Reading a heartfelt email from my 70something colleagues on The European Movement committee they brought me onto, I saw for the first time what it meant to them to keep alive the unity being in the EU brought. Their apology for the elderly hijacking the will of the younger generations is unnecessary but sweet. These are not the elderly ones who wrecked it all as is portrayed. Maybe in time we will see that the Brexiters have in fact sped up political evolution!
This Referendum united people as much as it divided. However, unlike in General Elections where matters of political allegiance do not cause such polarisation and we can all still be friends in the morning as little really ever changes, this has highlighted individual agendas and wishes in a way that elections do not. Because the votes for and against transcended party political allegiances it brings confusion and resentment, but also great hope.
This was a huge victory for democracy in terms of a 72% turnout. It was a victory for making people feel wanted, important and valuable in their opinions. Isn’t this consensus politics in action? Making the invisible visible is a crucial part of politics. Pundits say the political rule book has been torn to shreds, but instead why not look at it like inventing a new one. A rule book for a new modern age. The political system has been broken for some time and incremental changes have just not kept up with the world so now we have the chance to create better. Let’s together ask what is politics and who is it for.
One day very soon Westminster will have to be vacated for renovations, and what could be better timing. The very things governments have fought regarding devolved power are now realistic possibilities because of their remoteness and parochialism. Decentralisation has always been the cards. True unity comes from accepting the individual.
Desires for regional autonomy, a United Ireland and an independent Scotland may have been unthinkable but now seem plausible. It is neither good, nor bad, it just is. It has been a long time coming!
As in all things, that which you resist persist.
Perhaps now Britain can be the forerunners in a new type of politics based on round table co-operation on what we have in common rather than what divides us.
So in a fortnight, maybe a month, maybe a year, things will start unravelling. Already we have seen the prominent Leavers backtrack on everything they said, the lies they peddled being uncovered, and people who voted to leave feel let down and lied to. Seeing anyone conned or manipulated makes me uncomfortable and hence stepping back from the campaign from the beginning. I feel sorry for them.
While I am still asking for compassion in my heart to accept back into my life the friends who were such ardent leavers, I see how much of an injustice has been made. I cannot be truly angry with people who were so easily bought but it is not them I blame, it is the system made up of pollsters, media and politicians who used and exploited them, exacerbating what they had already done to anger them. This is not patronising them, or undermining their opinions, but simply expressing empathy because we can all succumb to illusions. I cannot ignore my Leaver friends forever and while I am proud that my life is full of contrast and don’t just stick with my ‘own kind’, when your heart is recovering it is important to be around people who understand. As anyone who has ever had a relationship platonic or romantic, sometimes you can love people without necessarily liking them much! When that passes as all things do, so too will the current state of play.
Now is the time to empower people so they can make decisions not based on fear but reason and compassion.
The sad spectacle of watching people who voted Leave realising they didn’t understand, and who were repentant, clearly indicates the poor grasp of politics and basic concepts of cause and effect. This is a time to address the British education system if nothing else.
Conspiracists are having a field day on whether or not this was the aim all along. Having once suggested that the Remain camps were being bought to throw the vote I was told not to be suspicious, but the lack of any cohesive campaign would indicate otherwise. It now seems I am not the only one to raise concerns. The bizarre creation of ‘Stronger In’ as the go to campaign leaders from seemingly nowhere and their apparent apathy towards campaigners was a perplexing thing to witness.
Does this make me suspicious? Perhaps what I saw as inefficiency and dissent all along were in fact allies in the quest for political progress and real tangible change. Maybe not. Villains in history are depicted that way but very often without them, better events would not have unfolded. There is no real good or bad and when people learn it brings a sense of liberation and contentment.
The flux of ‘What Next?‘ debates are inspiring. But irrelevant if they fly off with the egos and personal agendas and float in a cloud above London as all the campaign has been. It is no good if it seeks again to separate into little groups or if there is no underlying philopsical long term intention.
As with all change there will be turbulence. One death is too many and any regime change must be done with love and compassion not fear and hatred.
Like the bizarre weather at the moment, cracks of thunder within blue skies and sunshine, all our emotions are mixed and things seem in disarray, but out of chaos and confusion comes clarity if we let it manifest.
We must all remember that what we really want and need is on the other side of fear.