I’ve never been that interested in politics. I can remember saying that to a teacher at school who told me that this statement is political in itself! That to distance yourself from politics is highly political. I didn’t really understand at the time. Now that the country has voted to leave the European Union, it is hard not to have an opinion unless your head is well and truly buried in the sand. All of a sudden everyone you speak to is an expert and the subject on everyone’s lips is Brexit.
I was in my early teens when the country voted to join the Common Market, as it was formerly known, so had no say in the decision to join. However, I do remember the feeling of optimism and freedom that people experienced, particularly the joy of being able to nip over to France and fill the car with cheap beer and wine! Clearly this was not the only benefit and I have quite a few friends who have chosen to make their home in our sister nations. They found that their money went a lot further in France and Spain and were able to buy the house of their dreams without breaking the bank. At that time, we were not aware of the bureaucracy and legislation that would be imposed on us or how attractive our country would become to workers from Europe. The future seemed rosy.
I am going to be a bit contentious now. I actually think that the question of whether to remain or leave was too big a decision for the general public to make. I don’t mean that in a patronising way and I realise that we live in a democracy that upholds the decisions of the citizens. However, the vast majority of us (myself included) do not have the knowledge or experience in financial and diplomatic matters, to know which way to go. We had to rely on the leave/remain campaigns for information. There were lies and exaggerations on both sides, leaving the average voter confused. I toyed with the idea of not going to the polls at all, but decided that I had a moral duty to cast my vote.
Now that the decision is made, for better or worse, I hope that the new government can bring the country together. In the first weeks after the referendum we saw families divided by their decisions, attacks against immigrants and the perception that we do not tolerate outsiders. No matter which way you voted, this is a sad consequence of the leave vote. I don’t remember this kind of unrest after the decision to join the Common Market in 1973.
Well, for someone who claims a disinterest in politics, this is quite opinionated although I have deliberately omitted to say how I voted! Brexit has given all of us something to think about and debate and this is just the beginning.