Yes, I am aware that the pun in this title is horrific. I love a terrible pun so you’re just going to have to deal with it.
I’ve avoided writing extensively about Brexit up until this point because it’s divisive, confusing, and frankly I’ve been sticking my head in the sand about it for quite some time now.
The news alerts to my phone are like strange political haiku-
“May’s new vote today
MPs say ‘no’ to ‘no deal’
Still not got a deal…”
With more than 5 million signing the latest petition in favour of revoking Article 50 and a million turning out to march on Saturday, it’s a time of huge political engagement.
Well, not for me.
I didn’t sign the petition, I didn’t march. I feel…blank…about it to be honest. Just blank. I can’t honestly see an outcome that would be satisfactory. If we leave with no deal, we’re fucked. If we leave with a deal, we’re probably still fucked. And if we don’t leave, I’m scared that the backlash from committed Leavers will cause the barely contained rage felt by both sides of the debate to explode.
Having voted Remain, June 2016 left me feeling gutted. Large parts of the Leave campaign had been so clearly based around a xenophobic rhetoric that, despite there being millions of people with legitimate concerns about the EU, I couldn’t believe that we as a country would vote in alignment with such repugnant prejudice.
Regardless of the reasoning behind a vote to leave, in my book by voting ‘leave’ you were endorsing a transparently racist campaign. The people voting purely for economic independence gave the people voting to ‘get the foreigners out’ a legitimacy, a sense that they were the silent majority.
I took initial comfort from the fact that London voted 59.9% in favour of Remain. At least my beloved city had voted for togetherness, for openness. But as petitions started circulating for London to become an independent state in the wake of the referendum, it was self evident that calls to literally divide an already politically divided country would do us no good whatsoever.
It was scary to come to the realisation that my values did not align with the majority of voters around the UK. And nestled just behind the fear was a profound sadness.
On the day of the vote and the next day when the result was announced, it just so happened that I was on tour in a show that featured an Italian character who experiences racial discrimination in the workplace. As we performed the scene that night in a city that had just voted 58.3% to leave, it felt charged, urgent.
Fast forward 2 and a half years and here we are, still having no idea what’s about to happen. And all the urgency has drained out of me.
It just seems like endless bickering and pointless back and forth. Of course, there are very real and present dangers to us leaving the EU without a proper exit strategy, such as the risk that people will die if there’s suddenly a scarcity of the right medicines.
I don’t think my mind can compute all the potential outcomes, so it’s decided to think of nothing at all.
I am aware that this is a hugely privileged position to take. To the best of my knowledge, neither my life nor my livelihood will be affected by the UK leaving the EU. My boyfriend only has a German passport but we’re perfectly happy to up sticks and move elsewhere if necessary, thank you very much.
Others are not so lucky. They can’t join the ‘Brexodus’ if things go belly up. And it is our vulnerable who we have the greatest duty to protect. Together, as a society. Because, as much as we don’t like to confront the truth of it, we are all a few bad months away from being one of those vulnerable people.
It was so easy to forget this in the midst of all the months and months of many different Brexit timelines (are they all the Darkest Timeline?!).
Perhaps it is this desire for us to protect one another that will finally make me pull my head out of the sand.