Brexit: Remain speaks, Leave listens

After letting Leave supporters voice their reasons for wanting to Leave the EU without fear of retort, I gave Remain supporters the chance to speak. The question I asked was “to say what they feel have lost and why and/or what they fear as a result of this referendum”.

I have posted the responses below without identifying the author (apart from my own), only edited for typos.

  1. I supported remain, but the biggest thing I fear is the labeling of leave supporters by remain supporters. By saying they are racists, or ignorant, or even that they stand with people who are racists – or any of the other things that have been said, it legitimises racism; If we say leave voters were racist is suggest 52% of the population – the majority are racist and thus those who truly are, no longer feel alone, but feel they have the country behind them – which I very strongly do not believe they are!!
    I have spoken to quite a few people who voted leave and the biggest thing I have heard is “I want more say” often more say in business or local money or environment or something else, but it is about being heard. My fear is that they will not be. There will be a second referendum pushed through, there will be an overturning of the decision or there will be a burying under the carpet of all the problems.
    The shock, outrage and anger shows a country who is not listening and who is at odds with its population – It seems to be that people are looking for a reason without understanding, and without listening and have taken to condemning simply from fear. This vote should not have been a surprise. There have been signs of it for a long time, and no one has answered it.
    As an example to tackle the thorny issue of immigration, I worked in Hertfordshire with many schools for 10 years, over that time it went from being the exception to the rule that there was at least one student with English as a second language, I say that not to say it was wrong, or right, but to give my observation (in fact it was actually great for me as what I was doing was accessible to all, and teachers said it really helped, and many of their parents got involved – giving them an outlet to show they cared and me a fab assistant – win-win all round! ;-)) However, I remember in 2012 (I think) a labour MP stating that immigration had not increased. That did not sit with my experience. To me it was a lie; one that was not based on everyday reality. Thus there had to be something wrong; the statistics, the MP; the area; my perception. My perception was not incorrect, by looking at school record it is possible to see this trend. The area was known as being very white middle class; why would this suddenly change and nowhere else? Thus this can be thrown out. Therefore, either MPs lie or their records are wrong. Either way, MPs are not to be trusted when it comes to what they say on immigration. If they had admitted immigration had gone up – and given a reasoned approach that would be one thing, but instead anyone asking a simple question was, and still is labelled as racist.
    There is also, a slightly linked area of over population. We have one of the highest population densities in Europe, but I know many people have shared posts entitled “how to spell check a racist” or “what to say to a racist” that states “only 1% (or in some posts 2%) of the UK is developed.” This is to me symptomatic of a townified, ignorant and bullying attitude, that seems to have been legitimised, most especially amongst the educated. To look into it deeper – First – someone raises a problem, you (and by “you” I am talking in the abstract) don’t like it so you label them as “other” and come up with a word that is loaded with hate (racist), this immediately ensures their views are held up to be extreme, can be belittled and ignored. Next you ignore their real concerns (I want to be heard, I am concerned about the environment, sustainability, my children) but boil it down to a single, arguable case and them, without hearing the actual concern. Next you use made up (I assume) figures to justify your view – after all there is a huge difference in the two figures -one is double to other, and finally you show your utter ignorance with a belief in something that is so patently untrue, and can be torn apart easily – I mean what does “developed” mean? Does it mean it has a house on it, concrete – what? Does that mean our farms, fields, woods are not developed (which of course they are)? Does it mean you believe that we do not need to eat? Does it mean you believe that the only species to value is man and other species are dispensable? Does it mean you believe there is no place for requiring green space, for valuing mental health, just as long as we survive? But of course this can’t be said – the other person has been labelled a racist and thus their views have been denigrated to the floor. I find this truly worrying.
    To me the leave vote was a vote for change – to change politicians, and to change the media, and, speaking as someone who is more countrified than townie, a vote against urbanites and in particular a vote against London; London is remote, irrelevant and a waste of space, so somewhere like Brussels must be even more remote, irrelevant and a bigger waste of space.
    I am most afraid this will not be heard and things will continue as they are, with people having less and less say. Being more and more disenfranchised. My biggest disappointment is David Cameron’s to be resignation. If he would stay then at least 1) he could show he was listening and even though it wasn’t what he wanted, could show he accepted the voters say 2) being pro Europe I think he could probably negotiate a new European deal that was neither in or out – a compromise, a person who wants the UK to leave is not the person to do this, 3) He could show his fortitude; On one of my posts this morning an 8 year old was reflecting on her learning for the year “I am better than David Cameron, as when things go wrong I keep at it.”


2. In summary the stable future of the UK is in doubt. British universities will be hollowed out as we are shut out of European initiative e.g. the European Space Agency. All the spin-outs and other jobs driven by that will go to EU states. Global companies will look to invest in the EU.
The peace in NI is at risk & if the peace goes so will any hope for prosperity.
Scotland will go it alone, which will be bumpy but we know we’re a small nation & need to be in the EU for global clout.
I could go on.
Boris said empires rise & fall and I can only see this as the final fall of the British Empire.
The other prospect is this precipitates the break up of the EU and then I fear for the lasting peace across Europe. Binding ourselves together economically has given us the longest period of peace between member states ever.
Weather in Scotland or Ireland my family will be OK but all our futures are now more volatile & less prosperous.

3. My response.

So a word from me. I can’t even begin to properly articulate how all this feels, living as an expat. I don’t regret my decision not to vote; it’s a hard decision to take and live with that I know some disagree with violently, but I feel my conscience is clear. But that doesn’t inure me to what’s going on. I feel that I woke up on Friday morning and the country I grew up in had disappeared overnight. I suddenly feel rootless and adrift. I have always despised nationalism in all its forms, and have advocated for ‘devo-max’ for Scotland. But I now find myself in the strange place of feeling that it would be immoral to ask Scotland to stay in the union. I am deeply angry that the country has been lead so badly for so many years by politicians of so many stripes, resulting in such deep generational/geographical/economic divides. I have lost much respect for people who – though by no means racist – have voted the same way as racists and are doing so little to distance themselves from that racism. I am deeply fearful that the resultant power vacuum will, over time, be filled by right-wing politicians that will lead to a drift to fascism. I find it beyond insulting to be told that such fears are far-fetched and groundless and that it could never happen here. It could, and if strong and wise leaders don’t step in, it may well. I do not love the EU, but I do celebrate Europe and the closer ties the EU brings; Europe has formed part of my identity that I now feel is lost. I think it’s good for people, churches, countries to be part of something bigger, and that this vote is an act of wilful isolationism which can never be good. I am deeply fearful and angry at the racism that this vote legitimises; I had longed to bring my (foster) children to the UK (they, in South African terms, are coloured); I am now fearful of doing so. I have lost respect for some Christians who I feel are using their faith and the Bible to prop up a political view, and to use Scripture so poorly. There are people I want to be relationship with whom I will struggle to rebuild love for, for what I see as short-term, selfish, myopic thinking. I feel rootless, lost, like part of me has been amputated; it’s a real experience of grief. Grief is not hurried through, and to suggest that it can be by simple platitudes such as ‘It’ll be fine, you’ll see’ or Pooh memes is deeply insulting. It is very, very hard to be fully present where I am; concentrating is hard, I feel on the edge of tears much of the time. When I’m not close to crying, I am close to shouting.

4. You did something good here. I have lived in the UK all of my working life, well over two decades now. I don’t feel that I can bring a “German” perspective. But I am not a UK citizen either and so cannot bring the perspective of a voter. I love Britain. I do not feel threatened by this vote. Ever since we decided against me taking up a job offer in Germany in 2005, it seemed likely that we would spend the rest of our lives here but if I were a betting man I’d say the odds on us leaving the UK have shortened.

5.  I’d like to be able to answer this sensibly and not melodramatically – but I’m eating chips with mayonnaise European and I feel my identity is being ripped away from me. Maybe ask again when it all isn’t so raw. . . .

6. I voted remain as a vote for security. I feel the positive aspects of the EU have never been promoted. There seems to be a perception that we can keep the perks of the EU without the responsibilities. What has happened since seems inevitable. The whole focus on money for the NHS seems a complete red herring rather than a proper focus on the pros and cons of the EU membership. It feels like we are in no man’s land. The immigrant argument has brought out the worst in some people…ironically a trade agreement seems to imply movement of people too.

7. I felt physically sick when I flicked my phone at 5am on Friday and found the results, which I truly did not expect. What have I lost? To be honest, I simply do not know yet. I feel like I am in the spinning house with Dorothy in the whirlwind. Sooner or later it will land on the ground and I have no idea what it will crush when it does. I feel everything is up in the air and nothing is certain. I may find I have lost things I really didn’t want to in the long run. I may find our economic outlook is as gloomy as some say or I may find it is as bright as others say or somewhere in between. No Man’s Land is where I live at the moment. I simply do not know what to honestly expect.

8. It is almost impossible to write this without crying. I fundamentally believe it is better when nations work together, and as we all know, true partnership (be it in community, or marriage, or in church) involves the hard task of working together and not always getting our own way. That the EU has kept peace in the continent where former enemies work together, in a shared partnership and have a stake in each other’s future is nothing short of miraculous. Yet these achievements, and the stability of Europe, has been traded for a completely false prospectus. The most persuasive argument of Leave was that we would “take back control from unelected bureaucrats” when actually we have shed loads of unelected bureaucrats in this country, who are currently running the show whilst the PM and Chancellor have gone AWOL, and will be running the negotiations with the EU soon. What this was code for was “foreign unelected bureaucrats”. And what were we going to take back control for?? Well it seems simply to spend the same amount of money on the same things, and (as the most honest and authentic voices on the leave side admitted) try and stay in the trading partnership and probably even the single-market. And yet the MOST painful thing for me to see was that this “whole charade about taking back control” was achieved through the specific targetting, lying about, and demonizing of immigrants and refugees. YES, I know it wasn’t the only reason people voted to leave (and definitely NOT a key reason for the many Christians I know who voted to leave) but looking at the campaign it was DEFINITELY the most effective and powerful reason that made the difference (Remain was 7 points ahead before the unrelenting focus on immigration, “the Turks are coming”, “We’re at breaking point”). It is no co-incidence that this was the time where MPs were getting death threats, hate attacks were going up, and I believe it is no surprise that this was when Jo Cox was killed. Parts of the Leave Campaign (who didn’t even believe it ANYWAY) fanned the flames of racism for political ends and this was shameful (I expected it of Farage, but I know Johnson didn’t even believe it). So for the sake of being able to have our own unelected bureaucrats deciding the wattage of our own kettles, and our own fishery policies, we have given a boost to the far-right in Europe and given legitimacy to racism at home. And at what cost – the economy crashing down around us, worse than 1992 and 2008, and at the end of the day we may STILL have to follow rules of the unelected foreigners to stay in the single-market. It has been the biggest political lie sold to the country and it will take years to recover (if we actually decide to leave in the end). I would also briefly add that I have spoken to many foreigners in my congregation who are deeply upset, uncertain about their jobs, some who feel that through the last three weeks “the country doesn’t want me here”. Friends of mine and [my wife] have been shouted at to “go home” because of the colour of their skin. Jobs are already being shipped out of London, jobs are not going to be created here, and the poor are going to suffer. But it’s OK because we are sovereign (which of course we were before, as the Ref showed).

9. What we’ve lost up to this point:
– The ‘United part of the UK: This is an unneeded referendum, the result of internal tory politics. It has split us apart as a country, brutally.

– Regard for the truth: The Leave side were campaigning on a platform they knew to be untrue. Days after the result they are admitting there won’t be control of immigration and there is no £350 million to spend. Quite the opposite. We’re about to have tax rises or even more austerity to pay for the damage to the economy (so far).

– Respect for visitors amongst us: Hate crimes reported to the police have increased by 57% so far. We need more immigrants in this country, not less. We’re an aging population and employers say that UK people are unwilling to take on a range of jobs.

– Respect for human dignity: We have a basic duty to look after those least able to look after themselves, those fleeing persecution.

What we’ll lose if article 50 is triggered:
– Economic prosperity: Article 50 is designed to punish those using it. We have little to negotiate with. The EU does not want us to benefit from leaving and will try to make an example of us. Companies will leave, not having uninterrupted access to the 450 million people in Europe. We don’t have the people to renegotiate the hundreds of trade deals we would need.

– Options: It’s not a pick & mix. The Europeans have been saying very clearly it’s all or nothing. The best we can get is roughly what we have at the moment, without a say in making future laws. That’s a huge step backwards. If we want to trade with the EU, we need to follow their standards anyway, or our goods and services won’t be let in.

– Wise stewardship: £5 billion a year in Euro membership is a wise investment to get many, many times that back in trade. Tax will have to go up and austerity will never end if we’re billions worse off as a country. We can’t get the benefits without paying the cost.

– Our country: The United Kingdom will disintegrate. Scotland will leave. No question about it. I’m British. That’s my identity. That is where my family is. It would be like losing a limb.

– Security: United we stand, divided we fall. Cooperation with others is vital. European security arrangements aren’t perfect, but we need everything we can get in the fight against international crime and terrorism.

– Potentially peace: Europe has had much bloodshed over the past centuries. We’re not natural good neighbours. The EU contained that old aggression and misunderstandings. The far right and far left of various both want out of the EU. They are not good company to be in. Anything that Donald Trump is for, is unlikely to be pleasant.

The Leavers aren’t *for* anything. I’ve read many of the leavers arguments and they are very wide-ranging. They are not for a single thing in common. It’s like cutting off your nose because it itches a bit. Leaving is the wrong diagnosis for a variety of ailments.

Yes, modern life can be difficult to many, but we’re not going back to the days of coal mines and shipbuilding. For many, if it apparently wasn’t about immigration, it was a protest vote against the Conservatives or against politics and politicians in general.

The majority haven’t actually spoken about the EU, they’ve expressed anger on all kinds of issues.
I don’t love the EU, but it is much better than the alternative. This is not a black and white issue and never should have been put as such. We had just about the best of both worlds. We were semi-detached from Europe, but able to enjoy it’s benefits. Yes, there was give and take, but that’s fair enough. If we leave we’ll be giving, giving, giving for no benefit. All of the chaos was predicted and it’s happening

There is still time to prevent the total disaster from happening. We must not trigger article 50. Its’ up to parliament to if they want to do that however. We therefore need to have a general election once the parties have sorted themselves out. However, whoever is put into the tory leadership does not need to call an election. They can rule for another 4 years if they wish. I seem to remember something the leavers said about not wanting unelected people having power…..

This is still fixable. We need to pray that it is.

10.  Many French people I have spoken to are fed up with the UK being “half in half out” of Europe. “Either you’re in or you’re out. Make your decision and stick to it. You can’t have it both ways.” Like all points of view, there will be those who disagree. Not sure if this is in the right place. You asked for the French perspective, that’s what I have heard…

11. I liked being part of something bigger. I grew up in 70s and 80s South Africa and remember well the awful, trumping, nationalism and isolation. I remember being asked if I was foreign in the town I grew up in because I spoke English. I don’t think we’ll quite know what we have lost for a few years yet. Hopefully, though, the voting public can remain this engaged for the next general election. It’s all a bit of an unfunny joke that due to general disinterest in Europe, Farrago and his ilk were elected to represent our interests as MEPs. What a joke. How ironic.

12. I was and still am utterly devastated about the result and especially because of the age divide. My career ahead is science and conservation and a HUGE amount of funding from the EU goes into research and environmental science. This will be a huge hit for in my opinion the most important industry with ever increasing climate change. As a young person university funding is very important to society as a whole to better this world and increase our understanding. So much will change for universities and research :(. I want a peaceful future working with Europe and the ability to work and travel. I want foreign people in this country as they are the backbone to our society eg Polish workers getting the job done and paying their taxes. Economically it makes sense to stay no one wants a recession. Trade is better and easier in the EU. Not saying the EU is perfect but I think most people just don’t have a clue the benefits they see everyday in being inside the EU. The leave side wants to be independent yet they still want trade deals n all the benefits of the EU. It doesn’t work like that… you either contribute and get the benefits or don’t and don’t reap the benefits. Leaving the EU was the worst decision ever caused by a lack of education of the true facts. Being a Christian means doing what’s right for the most people. Leaving did NOT do that.

13. The politicians on both sides throughout the EUref have been citing information that is despicable and to be blunt but full of shit. Not trying to change anyone’s mind but I have some very personal reasons I voted remain and I wanted to share. They are:

a) Because real life things in my life have been affected by the EU, I.e. Woman’s rights in the workplace. The U.K. Recently fell off the gender equality list in the world. One reason we are not lower is because the EU have strict policies on equality in working.

b) Selfishly I like being able to travel unhindered across Europe, I like it that I can live anywhere. There are a HUGE amount of Britons in France, Spain, Germany and other EU countries. We export so many Brits! Some we don’t want back 😂.

c)  I want my children and my children’s children to have the legacy of community. As Jo Cox said: we have more in common in what unites us than what divides us.

d) I like having the EU keeping people like Phillip Greene in check, he is just one example of what’s really wrong with the UK. He owns topshop, DP, Burtons etc and doesn’t pay ANY UK Tax. Our friends in the government defend him as they have people like that in their pockets. The EU pressure people like him and the government to sort it out.

I could go on all day but those are 4 very personal reasons to me. I hope it helps.

Not looking for a debate as I know I could be wrong but I hold humanity, community and decency in my heart and try to in my actions so I voted remain.

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