'The EU Was Our Vessel, Our Revolution, Our Project.': British Youth on Brexit
LONDON: Unlike most countries in the world, Britain never really had a revolution. Gradualism and stability have long been central tenets of the British political psyche. For the last few centuries we've had a virtual monopoly over then. This past ten days we've lost that monopoly. Britain is finally having its revolution but in typical British conservative style, it's a counterrevolution. And it's grim.
If I'm honest, the EU referendum result shattered me. I felt broken. In my frustration, anger and disappointment, I chose to remain silent.
I felt as if a close friend had been shot before my eyes, lynched by a mob who fell for the lies of demagogues.
For young voters like myself the result was a travesty, a grave injustice. Almost 75% of us voted to remain, yet it us that will pay the highest price. It is us that must live with the verdict.
Not surprisingly, according to research done by the London School of Economics, 47% of young people felt like crying, and over 70% of us felt frustrated and angry. Clearly I am not alone in my grief.
I, like many others, saw my future as an international one, I identified as a European as much as a Brit. I welcomed the day when cosmopolitanism would sweep away the prehistoric nationalisms of yesteryear and usher in a new age. These are the thoughts of a true revolution. The EU was our vessel, our revolution, our project. And like all revolutions this one poses an existential threat to the society and establishment it leaves behind.
Brexit is a counterrevolution by those who are set to lose control. In the last week chaos has consumed my country. It is rudderless; leaderless on all fronts. The referendum has torn the right apart. David Cameron was the first to run away, shortly followed by the leader of the leave campaign Boris Johnson. Like school boys they played with fire, only to realise they had unleashed an inferno of biblical proportions, a hellfire neither desired and neither could control. Now even Nigel Farage, who dedicated 20 years of his life to brexit, has abdicated. Abandoned ship. Oh how they disown their own monstrous creation, fiddling as Rome burns.
On the left, the Labour Party has also been torn asunder, as MP's, if not voters, stand divided over how, or more accurately who, should lead us into the future. Economically we face an almost certain recession, and with bitter irony it is those who voted most resoundingly to leave the working classes who stand to suffer most.
Perhaps the only people who have gained are the far right. The racists and the fascists, the nationalists and the xenophobes. Brexit has legitimised thoughts which I had hoped had finally died with the 20th century.
But the last week has seen a 500% increase in reported hate crimes and racist abuse. Immediately following the result letters reading "no more Polish vermin" were posted through Polish letterboxes, while elsewhere a halal butchers was firebombed. Numerous videos of hate crimes have been circulating on social media, with many people being told to "go back to their own country" and to "get packing". Black MP David Lammey was told via Twitter to "go back to Africa N****R" before receiving death threats.
Obviously not all brexiters are racist, but most were gullible enough to believe that foreigners whether bureaucrats in Brussels or socalled migrants in the UK were to blame for their woes.
This is the real tragedy. People have been sold a lie. It's a lie that I fear may lead my country down a very dark path. Once a seed is planted it’s hard to kill and the economic and political fallout of brexit looks set to feed this darkness. The reality is, scapegoating foreigners and the EU is more convenient than blaming the years of austerity that have torn Britain's social fabric apart.
But there is hope. We are the 48% and we must not spectate in our hour of need. Last week 50,000 Brits took the streets of London to protest the brexit result. I for one do not recognise the legitimacy of this coup. I for one, will fight for the result to be overturned.
The truth is the EU referendum was a coup d'etat by the tabloid media and their populist politician friends. The slogan of the brexit was 'take back control' and that's precisely what they've done. Like Louis Bonaparte who took France by duping the farmers, the leave campaign has duped the British working classes. Like Bonaparte's farmers, Britain's brexiters are in for a shock when they realise it was a scam, a power grab by an elite who cares only for themselves.
We must now ensure that this power grab fails. We must regain our revolution, and take back our agency which we so carelessly gave away. We must overturn this referendum.
And there are strong grounds for doing so. Firstly, the exit campaign was based on lies. It was mobocracy not democracy. Deceit voids the result. Secondly the gravity of the decision is fast becoming apparent. Leaving the EU will be national suicide, as it will almost certainly be followed by Scottish independence.
Implementing the referendum will mean the end of the UK and that should never have been decided by a simple socalled majority. It should have needed a two thirds majority in each territory England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Just over a million people should not have made the difference.
Frustratingly, the 1.2 million who tipped the balance are now thought to regret their decision. They deserve a second chance given the deceit and the consequences.
Now is the time for us in Britain to break our collective silences, to put aside our grief and channel our anger. Now is the time to retake control of our revolution, to oust the counterrevolutionaries, and build the case for a progressive, unified future. Now is the time to acknowledge our deficits rather than blame the scapegoats. Now is the time to 'take back our future' and forge ahead with our 'ever closer union'.
For our Union is a noble endeavour, as audacious as it is inspiring, as hopeful as it is honourable, as worthy as it is revolutionary. Us Europeans long for a truly postnational society, we long to transcend the petty parochialisms and blinkered prejudices that suffocate and poison. We belong to the future. We are the future. And we must never forget that.
VIVA LA REVOLUCION!