Saturday, 25 June 2016

BBB- Brexit from a Brit in Brussels

There are A LOT of B's in this blog post title... I actually considered adding a few more and calling it Becky Burns' Brexit opinion of a Brit based in Brussels... but I though 5 was a little too much!

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For those who don't like reading lengthy blog posts turn back now- this one is about the Brexit.

In the lead up to the EU referendum, I chose to keep my political views off social media. I was still undecided and like to have all of the information from both sides before forming an opinion. I have never before been so torn about what to do, as you could probably tell in my 'to Brexit or not to Brexit' blog post. The EU referendum was brought forward from 2017 to avoid clashes with French and German general elections (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/11/david-cameron-european-union-referendum), personally I felt this was a mistake. I would have felt much more comfortable making a decision on the EU after finding out who would win the American presidential election and how the EU was going to change in reaction to the refugee and various monetary crises.

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Since the vote results were revealed I have been so shocked and, quite frankly, appalled by the response of those who voted remain. Never have I seen so much anger, intolerance and resentment on my facebook news feed and for a group of people whose recent campaign motto was #strongertogether it seemed ironic that they didn't want to apply this notion to their own country, the abuse I observed was mainly coming from the remainers.  I have included some photos of my news feed below to demonstrate the strength of emotion. I have also blurred out the names and photos as I don't want to name and shame anyone- that's not what this blog is for. Apologies if you read this and I have used you as an example, feel free to message me if you want the status removed. 





If you choose to live under a democratic government, sometimes you have to accept that your vote might not represent the rest of your country. That's democracy. if you want a democratic government but only if that means your opinion is the popular one then that is the beginning of an autocratic dictatorship. I was so disconcerted by the people who openly voted remain on my feed and their response to the referendum results calling 52% of the country racist, stupid, 'little Englanders' without giving them any opportunity to speak. 

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One of the major problems I came up against in the referendum build up was with the people voting remain trying to persuade me into a remain vote and effectively telling me that if I had an opinion contrary to their own I was simply wrong.  I would like to take this opportunity to point out that an opinion can NEVER be wrong. It is a personal viewpoint and if you presume to tell someone that their opinion is subservient to yours I think that represents an entirely different problem in the UK.


Many people were shocked at the referendum results, myself included, and I think that comes from the fact that those who voted out and those who voted in represent completely different groups of British society. This is a huge problem, if we want a united country(in the EU or outside of it) there should not be this level of dissonance.

I am still unwilling to engage in online conversations about my vote, if you want to know you can email me or message me on facebook and I will be more than willing to discuss. The deciding factor, for me, was my answer to this question- If the UK wasn't already in the EU, would I vote to join?
All I can say is that, regardless of your opinion of the referendum, I think we, as a country, need to avoid further discord and address the problems that the EU referendum has brought to light. Why is there such a gap in political opinion in the UK? Why did we let Britain get to a stage where so many people are so frustrated with the establishment and so sick of hearing the 'informed opinions' of people seemingly superior that they voted so unexpectedly? 72.2% of the UK turned out to vote compared to a low 66% for the general elections in 2015. There is a deep rooted problem here that needs to be properly addressed by whoever take over David Cameron's position as Prime Minister. 


I don't believe that not being part of the EU will be as alarming as people think. I have spoken with many of the non-British friends I have met while living outside of the UK and, if their opinions represent those of their countries and their countries governments, EU member states' view the Brexit with sadness rather than resentment. The EU was formed as a solution to the unrest in Europe and as a prevention from any future European wars, we are now all so closely interlinked that I think the idea that the UK would be isolated with sanctioned trade and no allies is unfounded.

Yes, the uncertainty is scary.

Yes, there are negative economic implications of leaving the EU.

BUT(I was always taught never to start a sentence with but, but here it is necessary) we should view this with optimism and hope. not despair, anger and nostalgia. Maybe we will go into an economic crisis with hyper inflation, reduced trade and no allies, but maybe we will embrace our new status of independence, retaining our trade links with the EU while forging new alliances with countries outside of Europe. We really don't know. 


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The current situation reminds me of some advice my parents used to give me when I was younger. As a child I was forced to go to piano lessons and I really hated it, I was no good at piano and a general theme in my life is that if I realise I'm not good at something, I stop doing it. Anyway, whenever I used to reach moments of despair and frustration I would loudly claim "I can't do this", I was always met with the response "not with that attitude you can't". I know I'm simplifying things hugely here, but I think this is the attitude the UK should now adopt. Regardless of your chosen vote, we need to unify and look to the future with a 'can do' attitude. The future is uncertain regardless of our status in the EU, that is the only certainty. 

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Just a little political humuor to lighten the mood of this post!

It will definitely be extremely interesting to see how things pan out in the relationship between the UK and the EU over the coming months. I am particularly interested to see how negotiations around the Article 50(the article to decide the terms of the separation)pan out, let's hope and pray that we can have an amicable divorce. I also extremely interested to see what happens in October as a president will be elected at the same time as we get a new Prime Minister, which is interesting to say the least.

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