Gwennan Rees

Blogger and Illustrator

My Reaction To The EU Referendum.

My Reaction To The EU Referendum.

By now, everyone knows that the referendum is over, the votes have been counted and we are officially leaving the European Union and I for one am heartbroken. 

I didn't really mention in my EU Ref post  that I knew I was going to vote Remain, I kinda wanted to keep it neutral, keep it to facts and leave it as a post to help people make up their own minds - however, I wasn't quiet about it on social media. 

Really, in my heart of hearts, I and probably most of Britain didn't really think we'd ever leave the EU. I anticipated it'd be close, I thought if the turnout was low we'd be in trouble but when the stats started coming in on Friday night with a high number of people at the polls, I really thought Remain would pip it. 

Cue my genuine shock at 6.30 on Friday morning when I woke up to go to the loo and thought 'I'll just check BBC News' to read the headline "BRITAIN VOTES TO LEAVE THE EU." This followed by an hour and a half of Googling the polls, finding out what my area voted (thank you Vale of Glamorgan for doing me proud), scrolling social media and genuinely violently shaking. I just couldn't actually believe we'd voted out and that we were officially leaving and it was the uncertainty of a life outside the EU, as a twenty something that suddenly gripped me. 

I'm proud to say the majority of people on my Facebook and my Twitter feeds were sharing my grief, because that's genuinely what it felt like. We, as a group of 18-25 year olds were grieving for a future we assumed was set, that was now a big pile of ifs and maybes. 75% of people my age voted Remain and what's more tragic? The teenagers, the 16 and 17 year olds deemed too uneducated to be eligible to vote who were some of the most vocal who have had the path planned out for them that they simply do not want. 

Now, now we face a process of immediate uncertainty followed by......well we don't know. Scotland are likely to have another Referendum and leave the UK and frankly I can't blame them. We don't know what's going to happen to our economy, we don't know what's going to happen to our trade, to our access to the single market, to the pound, to basically everything. And that's what we're grieving for.  

Obviously I really strongly believed we should stay in the EU but I am not narrow minded enough to think we can do anything else about it now. I don't think the petition for another Referendum is going anywhere - Britain did vote to leave, whatever we say. Yes 48% of us didn't want to and it's likely there are people out there who voted Leave who now regret it and there's likely people who didn't vote who think they should have. However, we are a democratic nation for a reason and however close the vote, we have decided to leave. 

Never have I ever thought I wanted Cameron to stay but I was praying he wouldn't resign. I was praying he would take us through the leaving process and get us the best possible deal and remove us as quietly as possible with no fuss and an amicable divorce. What I didn't want was a Leave campaigner to get into office and send a big FU to Europe on our way out. A lot of people cited unelected officials in Europe as a reason to leave and now we'll have an unelected Prime Minister ruling our country. Go figure. 

I think the biggest fear for everyone is the unknown - there is nothing certain other than we're leaving. We don't know who is going to run for Prime Minister, we don't know what will happen to the pound, to house prices, to our economy, to our jobs, We don't know what will happen to Scotland and Northern Ireland or even what will happen to Jeremy Corbyn. We don't know what will happen when we want to go work in Europe, when we want to travel there, when we get sick there. We don't know what will happen to the EU nationals working in our country, or the ones that want to come here. We don't know what will happen to the companies and jobs in the UK that are owned by foreign countries. We don't know what will happen to the bank. 

The people in government are saying 'we need to stay united' when Scotland is quite rightly thinking about leaving us. Farage is saying we fought a democratic war with no bullets fired a week after the death of Jo Cox. The leave campaign are saying we might not be able to spend 350 million on the NHS when it was one of their biggest promises. Trump is saying Scotland is bouncing over getting their freedom back when they voted to stay. Everyone is saying we need to take time to negotiate our way out of the EU when the people in charge in Brussels are quite rightly saying "if you're going, go, don't drag this out'. We have left the European Union without a plan and that is frightening. 

I don't really know where I am going with this post and I am not convinced it'll read back in any kind of sense but I guess I am just giving you one big brain dump in an attempt to process what I'm feeling. I have a lot of friends who like me are in the creative industries, an area that Westminster doesn't value and an area that gets lots of funding from the EU. I have a lot of friends that work in science, in PHDS and research projects funded by the EU. I have a lot of friends who work in medicine, who work with doctors and nurses and med students from the EU who are helping our economy and helping our sick. I live in Wales, a nation that despite ultimately voting to leave gets a lot of help from the EU, especially in farming, a trade in which we rely on and money we can't guarantee will be given to us by Westminster. 

I've seen a lot of arguments online and I am firmly of the mindframe that you should respect other people's opinions. I have not gone out and attacked anyone online or called them out on voting to Leave. I haven't branded every single Leave campaigner for being a racist or being uneducated for voting on the promises of a bunch of liars (who admitted their faults FYI.) What I want is for people who voted to leave to tell me why they did so. To tell me how they weighed it up and what legitimate reasons they felt we'd be better off going, because I need some positivity in my life, I need to believe it'll all turn out ok. 

What I don't have time for is people telling me 'it's because of the immigrants' or not being able to control our borders. Because it takes one simple google to find out we have more immigrants in the UK from outside the EU than we took on from inside the 27 countries. We take on more migrants from areas we DO have control over so don't tell me leaving the EU will ease that. What I don't have time for is people telling me they voted for British jobs for British people because most of the people working in Britain are supporting our economy, our taxes just as much as you and I and the other half are doing the menial badly paid jobs we won't do. 

What I don't have time for is people telling me they voted Leave because we can use the 350 million we send to the EU every week for a better NHS. It only took a 30 second search online to find out that we simply didn't send that much money every week, that the Leave campaign simply forgot the asterix on their bus saying *but actually we get this much back in funding. It didn't take the cleverest kid in the class to realise we were being promised things that simply could not be guaranteed. 

I have all the time in the world for a Leave voter who did as much research as I did, who digested all the information that was available to them and made an educated and informed decision to vote to go. 

I respect the opinions of others and I respect that democracy says we have voted to leave, but what I demand in return is the respect of the Leave voters in my decision to vote remain. My Twitter was full of people spouting some shit about 'sore losers' and 'stop whining remain'. I had every right to complain and to whine and to be upset and to grieve over a result I didn't want. I had every right to be frightened when I woke up because of the sheer uncertainty of it all. I wasn't a sore loser because I expressed an opinion and because I expected a different outcome. I didn't come out and demand a new vote and profess all Leave voters were racists, I just mourned for a generation I thought were let down by the older generation who STATISTICALLY voted the other way to us. 

My Facebook was full of people, most of whom I'm almost certain didn't vote at all, sharing memes of "Facebook politicians.' I, like most people I class as friends and classmates, shared an opinion on Facebook because we DID bother to do our research. We DID look into it. We DID watch every debate we had access to. We DID look into the ins and outs of the EU and how it works. We DID make an informed decision so forgive me for making an INFORMED opinion. 

I shared something on Twitter and Instagram that a lot of people told me they related with and I think it stands. 

"It's ok to wallow in self pity if you voted remain today. You don't have to be positive and hope it all works out. You deal how you wanna deal. Equally if you voted remain and now want focus on what good can come out of it, you do that too. Don't let anyone have a go at you for voicing an opinion on Facebook/Twitter/whatever no matter what you voted. Social media is the way our generation generates discussion and digests information. That is ok."

And to the rest of Europe; we don't want to divorce you, we're just working out how to live a bit differently now. 

7 Things I Read Online This Month - June 2016.

7 Things I Read Online This Month - June 2016.

My Summer Wardrobe Wishlist.

My Summer Wardrobe Wishlist.