Revisiting: A Referendum of Idiocy and Hatred

There are 161 days until March 29th 2019, the day that the UK should formally exit the European Union and my life as a UK citizen will change. Every UK news source that I look at is filled with what may or may not happen, every time I open my inbox I am faced with a barrage of emails from the UK government about what may happen in the even of a ‘No deal Brexit’.

The thing that saddens me about all of this is that I truly believe that this departure from the union, the whole messed up and mismanaged process leading up to it and the original referendum decision to leave are for very wrong reasons.

On the 27th of June 2016, just a few days after the ‘Brexit’ referendum I wrote an article entitled ‘A Referendum of Idiocy and Hatred’ for another (no longer existing) website about my feelings. If I reread it now I realise that my opinions haven’t changed at all and so with just a few text changes (mostly site name) I would like to share it here:

Our ‘job’ here at Mysterious Beans is not to be divisive or pass political comment, it is to write about food and travel and music in a way that encompasses everyone. Absolutely everyone has to eat and drink and everyone whether they admit it or not actually likes to dance, these are some of life’s great levellers.

If you add to that the fact that we want as many readers as possible, it seems strange then that I have just sat down to write an article that will quite possibly alienate or drive away at least 17 million potential audience members.

I am going to ignore all of that though and write what I feel because sometimes the issue is just too big to ignore, because it dramatically affects the future of this website and because with no editor to please I can do whatever I like.

Here then is my personal view on the referendum that has possibly (I say possibly since the referendum is only advisory and every UK political leader seems to be very quickly distancing themselves from the broken promises of the leave campaign) just taken the UK out of the EU, the people who voted in it, and the events that have closely followed.

… and my issues are…

I should probably start out by clarifying (although it is probably fairly obvious) that my vote was to remain in the EU.

My real problem with the referendum result and the inevitable fallout is not about food or music, it’s not even about travel although that will be affected, but it’s also not about the economy, trade deals, the NHS or immigration controls.

I feel that it is desperately sad that the current youth, as well as future generations, may now miss out on the freedoms to live and work in 28 (or more) countries, freedoms that I have used, enjoyed and loved. Even this tragedy though is not my biggest issue.

The reality is that my biggest problems are firstly with people who voted the way that they did for what I perceive to be the wrong reasons and secondly with myself.

I walk down the street or through the shop knowing that half of the people voted in a way that I couldn’t disagree more with and that a good percentage of those did it for reasons which make me physically sick and I have no way of knowing which ones they are.

There must be plenty of people who voted leave for what they believe are the right reasons. Some of them are idiots fooled by all of the completely baseless promises of the leave campaign, others are presumably highly intelligent people who really do think that this breakup offers the best future for the country, who can say whether they are right or wrong at this moment in time.

The big issue is that there are far too many people who voted leave for the wrong reasons. Perhaps because they are disenchanted with the current government or as some kind of protest vote, or far more chillingly those who have actually revealed themselves to be racist and xenophobic arseholes and the most deplorable kind of human being on the planet.

Racist attacks and abuse are already rapidly on the rise days after the vote and the saddest thing is that the vote to leave triumph has (in their own eyes) legitimised them. Remain supporters are taking to social media in their masses to highlight and condemn these attacks but oddly the leave voters seem worryingly quiet.

Such feelings of hate and the abhorrent way they are being displayed are really quite alien to me. I have never understood nationalism, racism or xenophobia. We do not get to choose where we are born or where we are raised as a child, neither does anyone else, so what right do we have to judge anyone on that criteria?

I am saddened that I have in the wake of this referendum result become somebody that I really don’t like very much.

I don’t want to engage with random people, I have very little faith or belief in the people around me and I have started to make assumptions about people which are at times probably massively unfair. Worst of all I have a level of anger that I have only ever felt once before in my life, today it is focused on this subhuman subset of leave voters, previously it was directed towards cancer cells that were rapidly eating their way through someone I cared about.

For some of the people who voted leave in the recent referendum and who have since then gone on to show that they are opportunist racist idiots who now feel that they have a new legitimacy and public mandate to share their views I think that the cancer cell analogy is not really a stretch.

Many of the brightest and best people that I know are immigrants, whether they are in the UK or elsewhere. The prosperity of the UK and the position that it holds in the world (or did until last Friday morning) have been built on the hard work of people from all colours, creeds and faiths over a massively long period of time.

I have been an immigrant myself many times, it is just that because I am English I get called an expatriate rather than an immigrant, it’s the same bloody thing but the use of an alternative word highlights very well the complex that drove so many people to vote leave.

The future

And what does all of this mean for me personally?

It means that in the nearest possible future, the articles that I write will probably be penned somewhere different, in a country where I do not wonder about every individual that I meet. It is not that I am so naive that I don’t believe there are plenty of the worst kind of people in every country in the world, but I have been truly shocked by the percentage of the UK population who have publicly shown themselves to be so.

Two and a half years later and maybe I am less angry than I was on that June morning, but then maybe I am wrong to be less angry. 

The world moves on, the UK relationship with Europe will change, hopefully not in as tragic a way as I imagine and people will just go on with their daily lives.

I will write from Portugal right now, and wherever else we happen to be whenever we happen to be there, but it isn’t likely to be England anytime soon.