Yesterday, the UK voted to leave the European Union. It has been a while since anything made me so very, very sad. I’m profoundly ashamed of my country – of our politicians, our media, but mainly our electorate – and I am anxious and pessimistic about the future. I won’t bother outlining why I voted to remain, or indeed why the majority of my compatriots decided that they did not feel the same way; we voted. We fucked it. We will leave. Much as I may hope that a technicality means Article 50 cannot possibly be enacted, or a minor electoral misdemeanour scandal forces a second referendum, or London strikes out on its own as a renaissance style city-state with Sadiq Khan as it’s Muslim-Medici prince, the reality is that my country has made a decision that disgusts me and now we all have to live with it.
However, I did discover that nobody I associate with was a passionate Brexiteer. It’s hardly surprising considering the demographic split of the vote that my Facebook newsfeed was devoid of #VoteLeavers; age, geography and education converge to mean that the overwhelming majority of my friends were statistically likely to vote the same way as me. But it’s not the validation of my own views and the affirmation that I respect the politics of my nearest and dearest which has been the silver lining of this shitstormcloud – instead, it’s the way that those I know have reacted to news they were so deeply unhappy with that has been the glimmer of hope in this horrible mess. The myriad exclamations of despair, disbelief, anger and sorrow that have filled my communications channels for the last 24 hours all deserve sharing, but my friend Henry’s response rather succinctly expressed the stage of acceptance that I hope we can all reach in our own time:
“This is the saddest confirmation in my lifetime that we live in a totally divided England, separated by education, wealth and age. Immigration has been made a scapegoat for the failings of a struggling welfare state. Still, a majority has spoken. Now what the hell do we do next?”
I’m proud of us, even if I’m ashamed of what has turned out to be the majority of my country. And my favourite reaction is still the first text I received post-results: