BREXIT: I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.
Independence Day? More like Apocalypse Now.
When I woke up to over 10 texts and 17 Facebook notifications, my stomach dropped. I had gone to bed the night before content, genuinely believing that Britain would not leave the European Union.
I thought that the advantages of Europe, propagated by our Prime Minister, by leading economists, and by the majority of MPs (185 Conservatives and 218 Labour) in support of the Remain campaign would clearly be seen as important. I evidently had a lot more faith in the British people.
For 52% of people, victory is theirs. Yet for 48% of us, it is as if Britain has leapt off a cliff without looking what lies beneath. It could be gentle, placid water which we could eventually enter. Or it could be jagged rocks ready to crush us at the nearest opportunity. Currently we are stuck in limbo. The pound has plummeted to levels not seen since 1985 and billions have been shorn off the stock market, but we do not know if this is a temporary or a long term change. It is, however, a decision that shouldn’t have been taken in the first place.
The resignation of David Cameron this morning has just led to more uncertainty. In three months, we will have a new Prime Minister, one whom we will not have voted for. As soon as it was announced that Brexit had won, people began to ask questions, unsure of what this meant for the future of our country.
What happens to European students studying in the UK? In 2015-16, students from the European Union made up 16% of the student body at Cambridge. How will our friends be affected? Will Scotland hold another referendum in the near future since they remained? Will the calls by Sinn Fein calling for increased Irish independence in light of this decision be heard? The political scene for the upcoming year will undoubtedly be volatile, perhaps destructively so.
I am not angry, just incredibly disappointed. The numbers have spoken, and one cannot argue with democracy without entering a dangerous debate about whether we should detract from the role of the people, something which any supporter of a liberal democracy cannot abide. But I am disappointed with the older generation for failing to acknowledge the importance of the European Union to the younger generation. Only 24% of young people aged 18-24 voted to leave, compared with a huge 58% of those 65 years and above.
I am disappointed that those who were above the age of 16 were not allowed to vote. In the Scottish Referendum, according to an ICM survey, 75% of 16 and 17 year olds voted, compared with 54% of 18-24 year olds and 72% of 25-34 year olds. The fact that it is the people who will have to live with the consequences of the referendum not getting a say in it (despite previous evidence proving that they are actively engaged in politics) disgusts me.
I am disappointed at the voter turnout. It was the highest voter turnout since 1992, but it was just not high enough. 30% of people ignored their democratic right, remained apathetic about a decision that will clearly affect each and every one of us, and ignored the history of the British voter and the lengths people fought to in order to exercise their vote.
I am disappointed that my little sister will not be able to experience the same freedom of movement across Europe that I did in my teenage years. The ability to hop on a cheap flight, experience different cultures, learn about their history without the constraints had an indelible impact upon my character. Some of my earliest childhood memories include summers in a caravan in France, some of my most recent fond memories include travelling on a coach around Europe with a group of people I had never met, drinking my first beer in Berlin and trying vodka in Poland. The fact that they will be denied this freedom of movement, and the fact that we do not know to what extent this will be denied, saddens me.
Yet I am most disappointed with the fact that this decision was entrusted to an angered and embittered population. The promise of an EU referendum was not a heroic fight in the pursuit of democracy – it was a pandering technique to gain more popularity and scrape a victory in the 2015 General Election. Cameron is most clearly facing the consequences. Resignations, uncertainty about the future of politics, economic turmoil – the weight of all this will fall on his shoulders and will most certainly tarnish his image in the history books of the future.
Europe, you’ve been fantastic. I am sorry it has come to this.