Immediately after the result of the EU referendum was announced in the early hours of June 24, I received a message from my friend.
“Here’s my plan,” he wrote. “Move to Scotland. Wait for the inevitable successful Scottish indyref. Get citizenship. Eventually return to the EU.”
Grimacing, I set about replying, when my phone went off again.
“Can we move to Edinburgh please?” the message alert read. Another friend had just woken up to the news. “Then Scotland can leave the UK and we can apply for citizenship and everything will be fine.”
And to both, I replied: “Let’s do it.”
Looking back on those sentiments, and considering the rush of people checking their Irish heritage and the possibility of moving to the mainland continent, I can’t help but feel a little guilty at my agreeing to such escape plans. Because division caused all of this in the first place.
I understand the desire to abandon what feels like a sinking ship. With the pound catapulting to an all-time low, Britain shunned by its international and European friends, and a sense of increasingly ugly hostility and xenophobia infecting the country like a bad bout of impetigo, many of us have begun to look at our own country with a mounting feeling of distaste. Like the comedown after a booze-induced decision to get a bad tattoo, we’re left sore, scarred and out of pocket – not to mention subject to the sniffy judgments of others.
Those who did vote for Brexit are left without leaders (the drivers of the Brexit ship having leapt into the lifeboats, Farage nicking some extra armbands along the way for good measure), and are now reduced to seeking their own direction – their own methods of “fixing” Britain, since it appears nothing immediately will change. Reports of racially motivated attacks have skyrocketed. Incredibly, I was interrupted while complaining loudly about Brexit in a supermarket the other day, when the woman behind the till asked me if I was “even British”.
We’re a mess, and we know it. We’re like the embodiment of a stubborn child who refused to eat his greens despite his mother’s warnings, and now sits on the naughty step without dessert. No Angel Delight, no stable future in the world’s largest trade bloc.
However, I’ve come to realise that now is not the time to run away from home. While my Facebook feed was filled with young Remainers pledging their new allegiance to Canada and Scandinavia, I started to feel deeply uncomfortable with the idea of abandoning it all. We’ve all been arguing that the over-65s have screwed us all over, so let’s not be hypocritical. Some young Brits will be stuck with this new predicament whether they like it or not. We need to work together now, for our future and theirs.
If left to the majority who gave in to the toxic scaremongering of “out of control” immigration and false promises made by absent politicians with their noses once pressed to the Downing Street door, whatever’s left of a sensible, compassionate Britain is set to topple off the cliff head first.
Young people, as we proved by voting in our majority to Remain, are pretty damn sensible for the most part. There’s no escaping it, we’re going to have to grow up fast now – our actions over the next five to 10 years can and will determine the welfare of our children after us, and their children after them. We need to start collecting the toys Britain threw from its pram in the most catastrophic tantrum of the decade, and build the kindest post-Brexit nation we can.
Looking back in 10 years’ time, I’d like to wake up to a country that, if not perfect, could have been a lot worse. And I won’t be able to do that if I abandon Britain in its time of need.
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