I was woken by a thunderstorm last night. It was a little before 3am. Lighting split the skies every few seconds and the thunder followed suit. It was one of those storms that explain why people of old thought the gods were fighting or exacting some sort of punishment on us.
I couldn’t go back to sleep. But it wasn’t the storm that was at fault. It was the Brexit referendum.
I knew that polls had closed at 10pm GMT, which was 11pm CET. I had gone to bed around that time, knowing that I would likely see the results with everyone else in the morning. But when the storm awoke me, spelling doom, I couldn’t resist and checked the latest results. The Leave votes were about 500K ahead of the Remain votes at that time.
It was worrisome, but there was little I could do and it was way too early still to be certain of anything. So I tried to go back to sleep. The heat and humidity didn’t help and my brain kept wondering “what if the Brexit really happens?”
So, over the next two hours I kept checking the results sporadically and the outlook became worse. The Brexit became a definitive reality.
Eventually I fell back asleep, only mustering up the energy to wake up again around 9am. I immediately checked the final results and there it was: the UK had voted to Leave the EU with nearly 52% of the votes. Not an overwhelming win, but a win for the Leave campaign nonetheless.
Whilst I wasn’t surprised after I had already anticipated that result, I was still shocked. Any hope that reason might prevail was crushed.
I lived in the UK for the better part of 4 years. I love London, I have some wonderful British friends and know many, many people who were from different parts of Europe, who had come to Britain for work and new opportunities.
I left the UK back in April, because the country didn’t have anything to offer any more. Yes, I still love London and I miss my friends. But with the referendum looming I feared for the worst. The two sides have been campaigning for quite some time and the stuff I kept hearing about immigration and whatnot was unappealing. The Leave campaign used some appalling arguments and strategies to advertise for its cause. And people believed it.
I didn’t want to live in a country anymore that wouldn’t open its borders to refugees from war zones.
The European Union is deeply flawed. That more and more people get disillusioned with it is not entirely surprising, even understandable. But the EU is an ideal worth holding onto and it was founded for all the right reasons.
The UK will be much worse off without it and those who left Leave will be given a nasty wakeup call. The Pound Sterling has already plummeted into depths unknown for over 30 years. The stock market is reeling and not just at the London Stock Exchange, but in Europe and the rest of the world.
Leaders in the European Union have said that this should be a wake-up call for the EU. Whilst many continue to support the EU and vow to remain a part of it, many also said that things need to change. It’s not just the British citizens who suffer this disillusionment.
Here is hoping that the EU is getting its act together and lives up to its potential. We’ve come so far and Europe hasn’t seen a war since WWII ended. We did that together. We haven’t built a paradise, but we live in peace. There’s a reason refugees are coming here.
In one fell move the UK managed to isolate itself from the rest of Europe. Historically the Great British Empire has always considered itself apart from mainland Europe. But there is no Great British Empire anymore. Soon there might not even be a UK, should Scotland go for another referendum to leave the UK and remain in the EU. Scotland, after all, voted to Remain – 68% of them, which is a clear majority.
The EU won’t be better off without the UK and the UK will most certainly not be better off without the UK. There will be a steep price to pay. But the EU can recover and will hopefully learn a valuable lesson here – one that results in a new and improved European Union.