Brexit: confusion, fear & shame

On Friday morning I woke up at 7:02am and in my first few waking moments, blinked at twitter. No. Surely not. Tears sprang into my ears before I’d even fully processed the information, both the shock and the doubt merging with the disbelief. The UK has voted to leave the EU. Even as I read the facts through blurry, angry tears, my mind was refusing to accept the information.

My very first thought was how the UK will now look to the rest of the world. A lot of people talk about the UK being great and internationally beloved, but personally I’ve struggled to see that; our colonial history, our blind monarchial devotion, our dodgy deals with morally questionable countries and regimes. In lieu of Brexit I am sure we will appear bitter, twisted, xenophobic, unfriendly, unwelcoming, elitist, pompous and outdated.

My second thought, almost immediately after the first, was “I’m not really English. I don’t look British. I can go somewhere else and pretend I’ve nothing to do with it.” Never in my life have I thought that. In fact, I have spent YEARS preoccupied with my race and my identity, trying to consolidate the country I live in with my own personal heritage and my varied experiences here. Friday morning marked the first time in my life I decided to just put the UK to one side, to view England as an erroneous entry in the data of my identity. My background is Scottish, with no actual ties to England. Perhaps now I start making that distinction.

I spent the rest of the day and much of Saturday alternating between weeping and pure anger. I voted Remain. All of my friends, my family, my followers and the majority of government are staunch Remainers. I did not hear a single Leave argument that was clear, articulate or based in fact. I DID see scaremongering from the press, overtly racist propaganda, and fantastical lies from Boris, Nigel and co. I agree that of the 17 million Leave votes, not all can be racists, ignorant kids, Daily Mail believers or pissed off ex-labourers sticking two fingers up to parliament. Some of the Leavers must be intelligent, decent people. But where the hell are they? Why are their voices so silent? If Leave is so great, why aren’t you bothering to try and explain it to us? I look repeatedly to those whose opinions I most value and revere, and every single one of them is expressing shock and disappointment.

It just feels like a slap in the face. A cold, isolating slap in the face to the young, to the mobile, to the non-whites. In just four days, hundreds reports of racist abuse have been reported and you need only spend a few minutes on Twitter and see Facebook to see countless more incidents that will likely go unreported. For me personally, it’s hard not to remember being spat on by a guy with UKIP rosette 3 years ago. Try and convince me that’s not going to continue on a growing, national level. Every racist voted leave. I don’t for one second believe all of the Leave voters are card-carrying UKIPS with Union Jacks tattooed on their shoulders, but if you’re not racist, why ally yourselves with that? Why not run 50 miles in the other direction?

Over the last few years I have felt more and more disgusted by this country; and less and less inclined to defend it. Less inspired to look for good, to respect it, to be a part of it. I wrote about my growing frustrations last year as the level of racist abuse and encounters I received started to rise. My post went viral; I am very far from alone in my fears. What will happen now? I’m ashamed to have to list ‘British’ as my nationality.

Here is a nation quickly proving itself to be confused. Leave voters seem split already between those expressing bitter shock and regret, those who didn’t understand the ramifications of leaving the EU, and those who have posted abusive letters through letterboxes and spray painted “black cunt” on their neighbours houses. I’ve not seen a single Leave voter expressing joy with the outcome. I don’t get it. Isn’t this what you wanted? What did you think would happen? You’ve thrown everything away and you’ve not even happy? Democracy has spoken; just loudly enough to cause irreversible damage before falling weirdly silent and retreating backwards into the corner.

Ultimately, it’s hard to accept the calls for unity, the MPs telling us to put to one side our misgivings and anger and hug each other, healing society.  Embrace those who would spit on us and mark our doors with crosses? Instead, the prejudiced are acting like they’ve been given a license to kill whilst the young google immigration laws around the world and frantically try to secure dual nationality where possible. Why would we stay where we are unwanted and isolated just to watch our futures get repeatedly slaughtered in front of us?

14 thoughts on “Brexit: confusion, fear & shame

  1. Jane says:

    Thinking of you guys from here in Australia. Even though I’m not directly affected I’m quite upset about it, especially hearing about the racism that’s exploded out of this all. Stay safe!


      • Jane says:

        A week ago I would’ve said that Australia is worse for racism than London, but I don’t know if that’s true anymore. So unfortunate that the reason behind it isn’t that Australia’s progressed, but because the UK has somehow managed to take a step backwards.


  2. Marneymae says:

    My heart goes out to you.
    I was shocked and saddened to read about it.
    Like, really?!?
    I harbor a great concern that the U.S. is teetering on the brink of something similar.
    (although if please gods&who’d fesses no Trump happens to become the next president in the 2016 elections, so many of us have no other nation to state citizenship with.)
    Thinking of you & the many people in the U.K. who share your stance & feeling.


  3. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    This is so terribly disappointing, Laila. My heart is broken too, because of all what EU represents and how we need to stand together. I can’t belive people have been so misled and thought it was without consequences.
    I hope the good-hearted people of the UK will find each other and stand together to find another road to walk on.
    I stand by you.


  4. Denise says:

    Dear Laila, this is really a shock. As I live part of the year in England, I’m very concerned of everything that happens in and for the UK. Yes, love stories won’t happen, that was one of the first things that came to my mind. I took one of my Masters on British Politics, Economy and History, emphasis on investments in Education and the creation of NHS. So that concerned me profoundly, that is “my” subject. What will happen is that the domino effect will start, like England and Wales being together; other countries will likely leave the UK. Gibraltar is in a bad position now and the Falklands will be a bit vulnerable. Things that people seldom think about – Falklands, not even 3k inhabitants? Well, they are British, every citizen counts, in my opinion, every single voice. Economy will go a bit down. But on the long run all adapts. True, alone it won’t be as strong as in the EU. Visas will likely be required on a 3 month-basis, like “rest of the world” tourists and lines to enter countries will certainly be “rest of the world”, like for other nationalities. This is, of course, the least of problems. Just mentioning. Retaliations from the continent are likely to happen, like vindictive children. For the youngsters, this is a nightmare. The future was written by some, and changed their whole future life. It’s really sad. Really.


  5. shannoms says:

    this entire thing is incredibly disappointing. immediately after i heard, i remembered this quote:

    “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
    ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

    how easily this has been forgotten. i used to think trump wouldn’t be the republican nominee, that the brexit wouldn’t happen and trump would never be president. i’ve been wrong about 2 of those things and i’m terrified of what’s going to happen if i’m wrong about the third. it will likely be similar feelings that you’re currently having, if i’m honest.

    it’s a scary world out there. take care <3


  6. Laura says:

    it’s actually such a shitshow. and i feel like i’m not even fully feeling it, being in finland at the mo. but still i feel so very much like you! and i’ve been thinking that my parents wouldn’t have met either. also, after the news from the uk lots of people in finland seem to be starting to campaign to leave. so both my countries want to leave the eu and that’s super fun. xoxo


  7. Pretty Red Glasses says:

    Hello Laila,
    Your post represents me so well. I’ve trying to put something like that into words but my heart can’t let me do it.
    You have noticed that I’m not white neither British, I came here because I felt in love with a British guy and he is the most wonderful person, we could have been together in Chile but as I already spoke English and he didn’t speak any Spanish, was the faster way to be together (in a way because to get my VISA took ages!). I’ve been here 6 years now and never got any issue with others, neither being called names or bother cuz my skin colour but now I wonder when this will start to happen and I worry … a lot.

    Big hugs


  8. christophermensah says:

    This was a thought provoking post and echoed some of my sentiments with the shock leave vote. I do feel also that the population was mislead by the leave campaign and now many are regretting their decision and stupidity. I’m second generation immigrant and my kids have a father that is British born and bred but somehow decades later people of colour or so called foreigners are no longer welcome. It’s sad and pitiful that people have views of being awash with foreigners and that they have to make a stand by leaving the EU but what will happen if the government involves Article 50, will be a downward spiral which will take years to recover and an exodus of people from these shores.


  9. Natasha says:

    This was such a powerful post to read Laila and I feel your pain just as strongly now as I did last Friday. At the moment the UK seems a drift in the middle of the Atantic and with all of the unsettlements in government it’s been a tense and upsetting week, but I do live in hope that we can steer towards a better future, somehow. – Tasha


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