This morning, after weeks of passionate campaigning by both sides, the result was clear. Fifty-two percent of the UK electorate (skewed primarily towards older voters) had voted for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.
Within the hour, news came in from all sides of financial issues, David Cameron’s resignation, rescinding of promises by the Leave campaign, and cries of “WHY?!?” from European leaders.
The UK had voted to “take back control”. But what does that mean for me?
Growing Up British
Born in 1989, growing up in Britain has always been a strange mix for me. We’re a country that’s incredibly proud of what we’ve done and what we do, but who always seems to think that what we do today isn’t as good as what we did before. A people who constantly think that everything is going to fall apart, and are pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t.
We dreaded the 2012 London Olympics, believing it would all fall apart. We were then pleasantly surprised when it all went to plan. And then some of the population believed it was better in the good old days. That’s Britain in a nutshell. It’s a weird national identity.
Becoming a European Adult
Unlike the rest of Europe, which revels in its interconnectivity and diversity, Britain has always felt a greater connection with the Empire of its past, and the Commonwealth which remains, than with those countries we’re connected to by a continental plate, ferry routes, and a train.
This is not how I feel. Even before I spent a couple of years working and living in Europe, I felt connected with people I knew across the world. The power of the internet meant that I often spent more time interacting with those in different countries than those around the corner. The idea of living in Berlin appealed to me more than it has ever done for London.
But, living in Barcelona cemented that opinion. Seeing what happens when a diverse mass of people come together, and the wonder that can bring. A world without borders, where European people were free to come and go as they pleased, bringing and taking new insights and experiences with them.
Europe, with its model for closer collaboration of countries and freedom of movement for its people, is the future.
And I saw that no more than when I saw the faces of those who were told they couldn’t stay. Friends, wanting to work in Barcelona and contribute further to the local economy and culture, forced to leave by arbitrary decisions about who, from outside of the EU, is worthy. All because of some imaginary lines and made up names on a map.
The world outside Europe, with its walls and barriers, is not the future.
What’s Next For Me?
I hoped dearly that the UK people would vote to remain in the European Union. That they would see that the benefits greatly outweigh the flaws, and that Britain should do what it has always done - stay and fight for better. But, alas, that did not happen.
I’ve spent today feeling numb. My head clouded with disappointment, sadness, and anger. Not at any individual people, but at a system and those within it who have allowed this to happen.
I’ve been on-the-fence with my opinion of the UK for the last couple of years, but this very much toppled me over into “dislike” territory.
To remedy this, I’ve decided to bring one of my plans forward. I was originally planning to save some money in the UK and then move abroad, but the new timeline imposed by this referendum means that may not be feasible. So, I’m looking for work within the EU (primarily Berlin), so that I may continue to live and work in the continent and community I love.
If you’re looking for a mid-senior level Product and Communication Writer to join your team, or if you’re willing to train up a junior UX enthusiast, get in touch.