Friday, 24 June 2016

23rd June: The day I felt ashamed to be British

It feels surreal. Emotions are high. Britain is saturated with uncertainty.
I can truly say today I feel ashamed to be British.
The outcome of the EU referendum has left the world stunned as Britain embarks on the lengthy, unstable road to leaving the EU.
After visiting the Auschwitz concentration camps and witnessing the horrifying consequences of prejudice and discrimination, it is heartbreaking to watch the rejection of an institution that fights for freedom, unity and peace. An institution that is not perfect but is needed in the world, especially at a time where fascism is on the rise and an enormous humanitarian crisis of Migrants fleeing their terror-stricken countries is continuing to worsen. These problems, I feel, will only be exacerbated following the decision to leave the EU.
It seems that many have fallen into the trap and have believed the negative narrative of immigrants that infiltrate our newspapers and in the media. I know many immigrants and am constantly aware of their contribution to society; the fact they work tirelessly in their jobs (the jobs that most of the British are reluctant to do), pay taxes and contribute to the economy. When has one single British newspaper or broadcasting organisation ever provided immigrants with the gratitude and respect they deserve? When did politics become to be about scaremongering and myths? It is sickening to the think that many people who come to this country to seek a better life (as many of us would do if we were in their positions) are subject to such cruelty and ignorance. The Leave campaign continued to seep fear into society regarding immigrants and have simply said that leaving the EU will cause a decrease in immigration but have failed to provide any system of immigration that will actually do so. There are countries like Norway and Switzerland that are not a part of the EU but in order to trade with EU countries, they have to accept the free movement of people. Where is Britain heading? Will she become a Norway or Switzerland and so, the seemingly problematic issue of immigration will not be 'solved'? Or will we accept Gove's proposal of a points-based system that operates in Australia that, in fact, will most likely increase the rate of immigration. To leave the EU simply based on immigration is an extremely selfish thing to do, especially to the young people in our country who enjoy having the ability to freely travel around Europe. The EU is an organisation that is not solely based on the free movement of people. There are other benefits of EU membership that have been ignored due to the ignorant views surrounding immigrants. The decline of our much loved NHS is blamed on  immigrants and the 'demand' that they supposedly create. People have failed to see that the problems within the UK is due to the cruel policies of the Tory government and have derived from Westminster, not the EU. By cutting NHS budgets and creating a 7 day week NHS (despite the lack of funding), the NHS will obviously not perform sufficiently. Most EU immigrants that come to the UK are young and healthy and so, would hardly use the NHS as much as an elderly British man. It is not racist to discuss immigration - it is a topic that people are genuinely concerned about and is an issue that should be debated and evaluated - however it is devastating to think that many people supported Nigel Farage, one of the most poisonous individuals in UK politics, even after he released horrific posters that have echoes of Nazi propaganda. It was a referendum and so, politicians (on both sides of the debate) should have provided us with balanced and coherent arguments but some failed to do so; they resorted to scaremongering and creating a divisive and polarising campaign.

UKIP Poster (top left) compared to Nazi propaganda. Source:
I have never been a fan of David Cameron and feel extremely disappointed in his actions. He did not need to call a referendum, especially knowing that emotions are high regarding immigration and the Migrant Crisis. As soon as he got his EU deal, Cameron rushed into a referendum that did not need to happen and this has resulted in Britain leaving the EU. He has understandably resigned but potentially leaves us in the hands of a Tory government that could be led by Boris Johnson, Michael Gove or Theresa May. That definitely sends a shiver down my spine. How are any of these politicians capable of uniting Britain after the divisions created after this referendum? David Cameron's decision to call a referendum and its devastating result could definitely lead to the disintegration of the UK. Leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, is already organising plans for a 2nd independence referendum as Scotland voted to Remain and England voted to Leave. The decision to leave the EU also has potentially devastating repercussions that can threaten the peace process in Northern Ireland. Although I am a History and Politics A Level student, I do not know enough about the EU to make an informed decision and most citizens of the UK, that were eligible to vote, were likely to be in the same situation.  The decision to Remain or Leave the EU should not be decided by a public who obviously did not know enough about the EU; the 2nd most popular Google Search question on the referendum, following the vote on Thursday, was 'What is the EU?' The decision to prevent 16/17 year olds from voting also infuriates me. They were allowed to vote in the Scottish Independence referendum and the same opportunity should have been given to people like me in this referendum. I, most likely, do not have the same views as a 65 year old yet they can decide my future despite the fact I will have to live with the result for longer. I respect that a decision has been made but it is not a decision that represents me or 16 million other British citizens.
Birmingham voted to leave the EU. These were the top EU referendum questions in Birmingham since polls closed. Source: @GoogleTrends on Twitter

As I mentioned previously, my visit to Auschwitz definitely heightened my positive outlook of the EU. The argument that the EU has created peace in Europe was one that was not repeated enough. Everyone is aware of the two horrific world wars that took place in the 20th century and Britain has now left the institution that fought to prevent this happening again. Britain should be continuing to strengthen relationships with other European countries and should continue to work for a reformed EU. However it seems that none of the campaigns created a coherent argument that could highlight this point. No party created an argument that people could trust. A SkyNews poll highlighted that 50% of people have lost respect for politicians and after such a bitter campaign, I can completely understand this verdict. Both Remain and Leave were confusing and spread myths - they could not be trusted by the public. I, as a Labour supporter, also feel extremely disappointed in Jeremy Corbyn. He said that he wanted to Remain but failed to appear as a strong leader and did not make an appearance in a television debate or any other high-profile speeches. This could also be the fault of the media for not reporting on Labour's stance on the EU as much as it had done on the Conservative party's views. Before the 23rd June, Corbyn was interviewed saying that his passion to stay in the EU was a 7/10. Many of the working class decided the fate of this country and supported Leave. They are the ones that will most likely suffer from leaving the EU and Corbyn could have been stronger in his convictions in order to get back some working class votes. The increased support from the working class for UKIP highlights the popularity of the far-right that seems to be mirrored across the world, from France to Germany to America. It seems many fascist groups within Europe are wanting to mimic our referendum in their own countries, possibly leading to the complete disintegration of the EU. It is hard to ignore the terrifying rise of such groups and it seems Brexit is proof that certain far-right individuals can succeed in their aims.

After some brutal campaigns, the country has decided and it was not the vote that 16 million people wanted. I feel disappointed in the Establishment and in the decision of the British - I cannot truly see a positive outcome from this result. I could be completely wrong and Britain may flourish outside of the EU but with the significantly worrying consequences of Brexit, it seems like it will be a bumpy ride. It is a scary time in politics when the far right seems to be gaining support across the world, from the rise of Donald Trump to Nigel Farage. I just hope that we begin to learn from the mistakes made in the past and realise how dangerous and poisonous certain individuals are. The EU stands for unity and peace but it seems politics is beginning to head towards division and hate.
Edward Heath (British PM 1970-1974) signing the documents to join the EU on January 22nd 1972. Britain's membership in the EU began in 1973.

Comment below with your views on the EU and your reaction on the referendum result. Were you pleased or disappointed? 


1 comment

  1. Couldnt agree more, the effort it took to get us in the eu has been forgotten and the true reason why we left is down to ignorance, racism and xenophobia. disappointing times but we have to optimistic and hope for the best, the decision has been made lets see how it the consequences dont leave us in complete turmoil.
    btw, proud.


© Nxha | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Developed by pipdig