You’re probably fed up of reading about the EU referendum. I am. I came back from Glastonbury on Monday and sat in front of the TV, with mud-splattered legs and tired eyes and a sad heart, and I feel as though there’s only so much more I can take. I want to turn it off, watch Gogglesprogs and numb my mind. But this moment is history in the making. Thirty years from now students will sit GCSEs on last weekend, write essays on how and why the world changed on an otherwise unremarkable Thursday night. I cannot let it pass without comment.
When I wrote this post last week I have to be honest – I didn’t think there was any way that the UK would vote to leave the EU. I thought that above all British people were kind, and good, and honourable. I thought they were intelligent and fair. I thought the good would out. As I danced in a silent disco tent on Thursday night, the stock markets strengthened, agreeing with me. We trailed back to our tent in the early hours of the morning, my fingers entwined around my husband's, and every time I looked at my phone, the results swung further towards Leave. Towards Nigel Farage and his sneering eyes, towards Boris Johnson’s blustering bravado covering acres of nothingness, towards the past. I woke up to dew-covered grass stretching out across a different world. People were ashen-faced, silent disbelief. I cried.
I cannot express how bitterly, impossibly sad I am at the result on Friday, how much I want to scream and rail against it. How many posts I’ve read about ‘needing to accept democracy’ when almost half the country disagree with the result – how I feel about those who voted Leave with no knowledge of what leaving meant, who would change their decision if they could vote again today. The difference between democracy and mob rule. My emotions watching Nigel Farage at the European Parliament, a contrast against the dignity of the European Commissioners. My response to Labour’s internal bitching and sniping, against the anchor of Nicola Sturgeon, holding Scotland safe within the storm. The endless Facebook and Twitter campaigns, the desperation of those who fought for their futures, the visceral despair at the anger and the hate that flows steadily from the cracks in our broken society.
How sad it is to watch the country you love tear itself apart.
This post does not tell you how to fight the result or what to do now. I do not profess to know any answers or what happens next – although I have, like many others, petitioned my MP. But if there is any light to be taken from this sad, sorry, state of affairs, it is this.
We have seen what happens when we are divided. We see the chaos and the panic that comes from turning against one another, fighting our neighbours, turning our backs on our friends. All we can do moving forwards is try to be good. London is a light spot in a dark country, a city of progressiveness and equal opportunity, but if the rest of the country has been left behind, it is time to bring them forwards. If we must leave the EU, at least let us unite together. The outpouring I have seen from my friends, across social media and in the news, is a powerful force. I hope we harness it for good. I hope those sparks of hope and light do not die out but come together and overpower those who would drag our country down into the mud.
It seems trite to quote Buffy the Vampire Slayer at this time, but this quote sums it up better than I could ever say it:
'Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does.
So what are, helpless? Puppets? No.
The big moments are going to come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.’
Whatever happens, Britain is about to find out. Let’s work together to ensure we like the answer.