Last year’s referendum result was an odd time. I remember waking to the news that we would officially leave the European Union and it felt almost like a dream or the start to a movie. I wrote the piece below the morning after the results were announced. Although a few things have changed since then, it’s been a strange year as we look to an unknown future.
I’ve felt shocked, saddened and angry at the result. And I have a feeling I’ll be feeling this way for some time. I woke on Friday morning to the news, thinking it was some sort of joke. I went to bed feeling confident in my country after speaking with colleagues, friends and family and hearing their views, but woke up dismayed. I am usually a positive person and always like to look at the good side of life. However, the more I’ve read and the sheer disappointment which has erupted across many parts of the country, it certainly hasn’t been easy.
I do believe the whole referendum was run with eyes closed. It all seemed pretty rash and extremely confusing for those involved. Unfortunately, lies after lies, were told and people listened to those lies – and worse, believed them. It’s only been after the results, that certain ideas and plans may not well happen. I understand it will take some time to get issues and policies ironed out. After watching the news on Friday evening, the reporters blatantly said the don’t know what will happen and there’s very few clues.
It seems strange how a year ago, the country was shocked at the general election result. The majority seemed united with the disbelief. Today we are even more shocked at the referendum result – and yet more divided. To me, the referendum campaigns were not just blindsided, they were at the mercy of those who wanted to reap the benefits and have their moment to shine. It is selfish and manipulative.
Unfortunately it seems the majority who voted to leave were fed-up (to put it lightly) of the establishment. They wanted to rebel. I can’t explore this desire to rebel against what the majority of the country, experts and leaders from across the world wanted – but in a way, I can understand their frustration. I do believe they were tricked and manipulated into thinking in a certain way – which has become the root of their decision and ultimately the result. A friend of mine said it was a bit like when you’re at school and the teacher leaves the classroom for a few moments. The class goes crazy and there’s a few who are silently begging for the teacher to return and restore the madness. They pretty much stuck their two fingers up at politics.
There was so much to the referendum which I personally, don’t think certain people quite grasped. It took me weeks and hours of researching each argument – but somehow I fear others who voted didn’t do their homework to the fullest extent. I read a variety of sources, watched interviews and witnessed a variety of debates. I feel quite clued up about politics and actively research the latest news regarding our political affairs. However, I still felt it was a bit of a landmine in terms of understanding the various sources and what each argument means for our country, our lives and future. Indeed, it’s been only after the results numerous leave voters said they are quite shocked and didn’t think their votes would count.
From the off-set I knew I wanted to remain. But I wanted to get to the bottom of what each argument meant for us. After all sorts of research, I felt I made some progress and could make an informed decision. However, it was clear there was no clear strategy devised for each side. Caution of warnings were highlighted as scaremongering tactics and looked to focus on the negatives. But wasn’t it better to do this than lay out a load of optimistic lies?
It seems headlines ran away with the masses and false information dominated the media. The referendum wasn’t just about immigration. ‘Daily Fail’ (and other) headlines encouraged people to believe in this one view. It tapped onto an issue which was close to people’s hearts, minds and souls. Indeed, it didn’t let go. They told one side of the story and left the remainder pretty much unwritten.
They blew an issue out of proportion. Leading many to wish for our borders to be closed and for people who have come in search of a better life to “go back home”. I really don’t know what kind of country we are if we turn our backs on others and ignore the world’s problems. It no longer frightens me, rather it sickens me. I have heard a good deal of hate echoed by many about people “coming over here and stealing our jobs” – but when you get to the bottom of the issue, it’s clear to see they may not even apply for those jobs in question.
Now I was born in the UK and I have a British passport, but I have always felt like I’m part of two countries. I feel more European due to my upbringing and life experiences. I grew up knowing and living the cultures of two countries – England and Romania. Fast forward to today, and I live in one of the most diverse and multicultural cities – Manchester. I work at a global university and I have more friends from Europe, than I do the UK.
I have had so many opportunities to explore different European cultures – from eating their homemade dishes and attempting to learn the language, to sharing cultural experiences and attending events. It really does break my heart to think of how the possible effects of leaving the EU will have on our futures. It makes me so sad to think my children may not have the chance to freely meet others and have the same opportunities I did. Regardless of what plans may be laid out for the future as a result of this exit, I will try my best to ensure my family and I will continue to live our European lifestyle.
I think it’s important to share how my dad came over to the UK from Romania over 25 years ago. He has worked as a labourer every working day (and a large proportions of weekends) to provide for his family. My dad is the most hardworking person I know – he is unstoppable. As I’ve grown up, I’ve learnt what hard work means as a result of my dad. He taught me to always try my best and to work as hard as I can. It’s this type of work ethic which I can see my dad and others from across Europe having – they don’t need to strive for it, it’s in their blood. At a time when my dad was receiving treatment for cancer, he was treated by an Italian doctor. I will always be so thankful to his doctor for helping to keep my dad’s spirit up – their similar personalities bonded so well and I believe it armed my dad with so much strength.
So maybe you can see why I can get so frustrated when people look at a minority and coat them with the same brush. Yes, there are people who abuse the systems we have in place. But we need to take a look at the bigger picture and notice the hardworking people who help to keep our country turning. Those who have set up businesses, strengthened our economy and helped to provide jobs for others – they need to be rewarded by respect, not judged.
Throughout my time at university, I met friends from all across Europe. Romanians, Italians, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Lithuanian (the list goes on) – as students they studied subjects I could never have dreamed of learning. Today, they work in the UK in areas such as law, film, computer science, engineering, science, business. These friends inspired me with their work ethic and passion to achieve the best they can in their lives – and you know what? They are doing exactly that and will continue to do so.
I believe our country is unique as a result of working together and welcoming others. We live in a world where we need to help our neighbours and think beyond ourselves. Our society is so rich and diverse – it’s a world in itself. We are unable to live in a country which takes several steps backwards and somehow believe we are moving forward. We need our friends from all across the world – and they need us. I find it difficult to even imagine my world without the diversity, I so truly love and cherish. In the difficult and challenging times we face, we need to stick together. The result has proven to me, we are no longer united. But now we need to make the steps to regain our confidence and understand each other in a way we have never done before. Now is the time we need to stand together, rise above negativity and strengthen our spirits – as one.