Today is a day that I hoped would never come. Not because of a lack of respect for democracy or a wish to defy 'the will of the people' but simply because I think Brexit is antithetical to the world we should all be striving to create.
The EU is not perfect. It is a large bureaucratic organisation with plenty of fat that could be trimmed but it is also one of the most effective peace projects and social mobilisers I can think of. Europe's history is peppered with egregious conflicts taking hundreds of thousands of lives as recently as 75 years ago and here we are with a unified currency, standardised regulations for goods and services, workers rights that protect the person not the corporation, consumer rights, regional investment funds and so on.
In this age of social media and fake news how can we be sure that our opinions are our own? Much has been written about the 2016 referendum which saw 48% vote to remain. 1.5 million people decided the fate of the country for generations to come. Why was a super majority not required for such a seismic constitutional change? Wait. Why did we even have this silly referendum in the first place? Oh yes, that's right. It was a politcal gamble by the gutless David Cameron in an attempt to quiet the Euroskeptic wing of the Tory party for good. A feckless remain campaign followed and the rest, as they say, is history.
In the recent UK General Election where Boris Johnson was elected by a landslide it was seen as the final nail in the coffin for remainers and the Tories, the Tories, won seats that have never seen anything but a Labour bottom. Brexit dominated the agenda and many saw this as a second referendum of sorts. The reality is the UK is now left with a thumping Conservative majority and Brexit is done. The very same communities gutted by the Tories in the 80s now see them as their salavation? I feel a real sense of tradegy as I write this.
Tradegy? Why? The UK will be fine. The UK may well be fine (your definition of fine may well differ drastically from mine).
The real reason I feel such sadness is that the Brexit movement represents to me a short-sighted nationalistic viewpoint that isolates the UK and will make everyone who lives there measurably poorer. In a time where we need to be less insular and not more so, we should be striving to create a world where more people are able to live in the same standards to which we have been accustomed. There are hundreds and thousands of extremely talented engineers, inventors, creators, artists, business people and so on throughout the developing world and there are several EU member states where membership alone has been the single biggest economic transformer in several generations.
In a previous job I worked closely with a team in Romania. The country itself is very different from the UK and one small city called Cluj-Napoca is now a tech hub with a thriving scene. This city fosters innovation spurred by EU investment and is improving life for many of its citizens. The single market for goods and manufacturing but also, crucially, labour has had such an incredible transformative effect on this town in the space of a single generation. Say what you will about EU inefficiencies but this story is repeated across the continent.
And so with Brexit day upon us I feel a tremendous sadness that my fellow countrymen would rather rebuild the empire (which was built on murder and slavery by the way), take back potato picking jobs that nobody in the UK wants to do anyway and for what?
3+ years on I still see no benefits. In fact Brexit was the last round of ammunition, the final straw, that I needed to emigrate to America. I work with a lot of smart people in the tech industry and just in my sphere of friends I know of about a dozen or so who have also left the UK either returning to Europe where they feel welcome or moved elsewhere entirely.
What a waste. What a travesty. What an absolutely tragic day for Britons.