and also hasta luego, arrivederci, auf wiedersehen, på gensyn, do widzenia…
I thought, when this day came, it would feel worse than this. That’s not because I’m any more sanguine about the consequences – I’m deeply sad, and afraid. It’s because I’m facing personal grief and loss – my feelings about what’s happening to my family are currently overwhelming my feelings about what’s happening to my country. There’s also the numbing effect of having despaired, and then hoped (cautiously) and then despaired and hoped and so on, over 3.5 years.
Some day, we’ll realise our mistake. We’ll understand the value of the European project, of the merits of facing the huge challenges of the 21st century with our neighbours rather than alone.
Till then, till we find ourselves some leaders who have the honesty and the humility to acknowledge that we need to be part of Europe, what can we hope for?
I will not hope, as some on the Remain side appear to, that those who voted for Brexit suffer the most from its consequences.* One of the arguments against Brexit that most of us espoused was precisely that its consequences would be the most severe for the most disadvantaged, the most vulnerable, those with the least resources. That some of those people voted for Brexit is deeply sad – but we cannot wish their situation to get worse than it is. Politics aside, that is simply morally wrong.
I hope that the vocal minority of thugs who have felt empowered since the referendum to terrorise and abuse those who are visibly and/or audibly Not British will be dealt with appropriately by the law, and that those of us who witness such things will stand with the targets of their abuse.
I hope that whatever solutions are found to the Irish border issue, that the peace that has – largely – prevailed there since the Good Friday Agreement holds, and strengthens.
I hope that the negotiations that must now take place will be conducted in good faith by our politicians, and that a No Deal exit will be avoided.
I hope that the promises made at the time of the referendum to EU citizens who have made their homes here, paid their taxes here, raised families here, contributed here in so many ways, will be kept.
I hope that, desirous of freedom and independence as we apparently are, we do not surrender our independence to the USA in return for dubious trade deals with an unstable and untrustworthy regime.
I hope that those of us who argued, voted, marched, campaigned to stay in Europe will use our energies now not just to promote the hope of our return, but to work against the worst consequences of our departure, whether or not they affect us directly.
Above all, I hope that one day, led by the young who have had the most stolen from them by Brexit, we will knock at Europe’s door and say, with all due respect and humility, ‘we made a hideous mistake. We’d like to come home now, please.’ And that our brothers and sisters in Europe will say, with generosity and forgiveness, ‘OK, let’s talk’.
*I reserve the right, however, to a degree of schadenfreude, should those who advocated Brexit, lied about Brexit, used Brexit as a means to promote toxic messages about ‘foreigners’ and ‘enemies of the people’, threatened said foreigners and enemies of the people, and so forth, see their careers in freefall and their names held up to ridicule. I’m not a bloody saint.