Brexit

I’m so sad, I find it difficult to put my sadness into words. I love Britain. I love Britain with my whole heart and soul. I love their green fields, their narrow little streets lined with hedges and walls, their pubs with their brilliant names (red lion, black buoy, horse & crown etc.), their cider (dry blackthorn - my absolute favourite), their fish’n chips, their weetabix, I love Tesco, Walkers, Newcastle Brown Ale, London, the Tube, crappy windows, the language, driving on the left, their country side and beaches. I love their little villages with again grand names (Cockfield, Wivenhoe, Braintree, Tiptree, Manningtree, Fingringhoe, Knaresborough to name but a few). I have loved Britain since I first put my foot on British soil when I was sixteen. I go there every year on my holidays. I used to live there. For three years.

Their vote to leave the EU really struck me deeply. I was worried ever since I heard about the referendum. And this morning at six o’clock, when I got out of bed, still very sleepy and disoriented, I entered our living room and the first thing I heard from my husband was »it seems they are out«. He’d been out of bed for more than an hour, sitting at the computer, finding information on the results. Now we know it. The British really want to turn their back to the European Union.

I spent my time at university doing a course in European studies. In England. I learned everything about the EU, the single marked, free movement of goods, people and services, enlargement, the euro, deeper versus wider, all these things were part of my time at university. And I loved it. I loved the idea behind it, the idealism, the outcome. I wrote a fiery master thesis on European integration which got a pretty good mark. Very often I found (and still find) that the EU is reduced to a bunch money sucking technocrats somewhere in Brussels who mindlessly ignore the people’s will and wrap everything and everybody up in red tape. I have always seen a very historical construction that has given us peace for the last 70 years. Peace on a continent where war was the rule and happened all the time. The means often being hard to understand laws on the shape of bananas, the size of tomatoes and other sometimes bizarre ideas. But what I see is the wish for a body that guarantees stability, that takes 12, 15 and now 27 different countries with probably twice or three times more opinions, putting them into a melting pot and forming something out of it. That is hard work. It often means, nobody gets what he wants. It makes the most insane looking compromises possible. But our countries have strived, have become prosperous, I think the standard of living has risen in all of them. Not one has become poorer than before entering the European Union.

So here I have the country I love turning their back to the institution I love. I find that hard to swallow. My poor colleagues at work had to put up with an extremely grumpy me all they long. And it is my sister’s birthday, too. I found it hard to celebrate.

Looking at the votes, two things struck me most: a) the whole of Scotland wants to stay in. b) the majority of the young people want to stay in. And here I see the fallacity of this whole referendum. The majority of the generation 65+ voted leave (58%) and the majority of the people aged 18-24 voted remain (64%). Is it fair to take away from the youth the kind of country they want? I have my doubts. Serious doubts.

I really hope that the panic that is gripping everyone in Britain and also the European Union at the moment and makes people say and predict the wildest szenarios will go down quite a bit in the next few days and that people will bek able to think clearly and talk to each other properly again. No »we want you out as quickly as possible« from EU leaders. It seems wrong to me to want to kick Britain out before they even have triggered § 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that deals with such a case. Let them deal with the outcome of their referendum first and let them decide what to do with it.

Britain, I love you. But your choice has made me very sad.

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