Last night in Barcelona was a strange one, we spent some time with our friend Bryan who is from South America and met a whole bunch of new people from all over the world, happily living here in Spain. Last night was the Feast of Sant Joan, Catalonia’s celebration of Summer Solstice and their patron saint. The streets of the entire city were flooded with bonfires, firecrackers and fireworks for most of the day and into the early hours, with children happily dancing over fires and setting light to small explosives. There are still fireworks going off now, 11am the day after. It felt apocalyptic, especially when combined with the EU referendum results that we were so anxiously waiting, whilst we watched the fire brigade extinguish a blazing fire over the entrance of a block of flats across the road. Bizarre.
The EU Referendum was high on all of our conversation topics last night with our multi-cultural friends, people from all over the world amazed and shocked by some of the facts and campaigning methods used. We told a lot of stories that were met with shocked faces from a diverse selection of people. Fellow British citizens worried about what it meant for their future in Spain, a Brazilian who has a British passport but doesn’t identify as British. My boyfriend, Miz, a Spanish passport holder who spent most of his life in England and yet did not have the right to vote. So many scenarios when it comes to citizenship, yet still the politics of the country in which you hold a passport for holds such a massive sway on your future. We didn’t choose to be born the way or place we were, it seems ridiculous that it should so directly impact your future and your chances at happiness. We are citizens of the Earth.
If you read my blog posts about why we moved to Spain, you’ll understand why the decision for the UK to leave the EU is such a massive worry for us personally. It’s been about a month now and we’ve found a new type of happiness here and a healthy, balanced lifestyle that works for us. We have opportunities and flexibility that we could never have if we stayed in the UK and we can actually afford to do the things we need to do to progress our lives on the path we want for ourselves. Yet, now because of a decision made by the older generation and what I can tell, people who have not been communicated or educated in what the EU really means in a non-biased way, our future is potentially in jeopardy, although no one really knows what it is going to actually do for us yet, which makes it even more stressful and upsetting. Why would you vote for a future that is undefined? A future with promises from politicians that we don’t really like, let alone trust!
I feel like I should have done more for campaigning for the pre-vote Remain cause. But without a pimped out Delorean, there’s not much I can do about that now, so I’m going to share here some of the thoughts and worries in this post-Brexit world in the hopes that it might do some kinda good for someone, somewhere.
The politicians lied…
Well, that’s nothing new is it? Politicians are famous for lying. But within a few hours of the leave decision announcement, we’ve got Nigel Farage (who’s part of a racist political party and ironically from a family of immigrants historically) admit publicly that the leave campaign lied about the extra funds for the NHS, a strong point that could have swayed many to vote leave. That’s false advertising and if you made that big of a false claim within advertisements in any other industry, you’d be fined and publicly outed. Yet, it’s OK for someone in that position of power to do that apparently. WTF?
Photo credit and more information on Guardian.
There was little unbiased facts or education…
We can all admit that the campaigning techniques for both the leave and remain sides was both ridiculous, confusing and bizarre. Politicians you kinda didn’t mind (Boris), now backing the opposite side to your gut feeling and politicians you know you hate (Cameron) backing the same side as you leaves you pretty damn confused. Then, the leave campaign takes some insane routes as scaremongering flyers with incorrect statistics on and take to boats on the Thames with loud speakers to spread the word. The remain campaigners see this as an act of stupidity and share the news stories in an act to highlight the idiocy whilst also directly giving the leave campaign more eyes and more attention, also confusing. The newspapers take their sides, all heavily influenced by money of course and the majority of the country laps up the claims or laughs publicy at how stupid it is. The press should be neutral, it should be their job to inform and not influence. And once again, the leave campaign gets massive sensationalised stories in the highest readership papers filled with incorrect information and bizarre claims to do with moths to hit the headlines, as if leaving the EU is going to stop teeny tiny insects from flying over a short distance of water and as if holes in your cabbages is a life or death situation. Where did we find the truth and facts which would have allowed every single voter the chance to make a 100% accurate and informed choice? And where was the voice from Europe telling us why we should stay?
The people it would impact the most couldn’t all vote…
Immigration has been a massive part of the debate, again with confusing statistics. One of the main reasons I was on the side of remain in the EU was because I believe in freedom of movement for individuals and businesses and the EU is part of what makes this work. I have a lot of friends who live in the UK but are European, some of them have been there their entire lives and see themselves more as British than of their homeland. No one knows what will happen to these people or to any of the British people who have made a great life for themselves in mainland Europe. Did you know that most of those foreign friends who live in the UK couldn’t even vote? Although, bizarrely, New Zealand or Australian citizen who have been in the UK 3 months or more could vote on the issue despite it not having an impact on their lives at all. Confusing right? How is it just that the people the change could impact the most did not have a single say on the issue? Yes, some of our friends who wouldn’t normally vote or didn’t have a strong sway either way voted to support their European friends, but it’s not really enough is it?
We didn’t see enough of this! Poland showing their support for the Remain campaign. Various European cities did this.
The young people are the future…
75% of 16-24 year olds voted to remain. I’ve heard multiple stories this morning of children aged 10 are crying because they are worried that their school friends (who are mainly non-UK origin) will be asked to leave. Those 10 year olds are the future of this country and they have no say. When I went to school in the North of England, in a relatively rural area, I didn’t meet a black person until I was about 13, I didn’t meet a Muslim person until I was about 15. My High School was mainly white middle class, we had one family from Sweden and one family who were Muslim and that was as diverse as I’d experienced until I went to University and that’s through no fault of myself, that’s just how the immgiration flow worked in my local area and I think you can see this reflected in the vote split North to South or rural to urban. Modern day schools seem to be generally more diverse, because of immigration and that’s not a bad thing. That means, that the next generation have friendships and community that is truly multi-cultural and that’s awesome, yet a vote to leave the EU puts this at risk. Why is it OK for people who are likely to be dead in the next 20 years to decide a future that we may be stuck with for hundreds of years? Yet the children who are our future doctors, teachers and more just had to worry about their friends with no say at all. Mess for our children and grandchildren to clean up. It’s not fair.
England is built on immigration…
All this negativity towards immigration makes me angry. Farage’s family heritage is French and German. Boris Johnson or his full name, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born in America, he is both American and British, he was educated in Brussels and his family heritage comes from Switzerland. They are both immigrants, they just happen to be British passport holders because of wealth, timing and their parents choices. England was built on immigration and our historical power comes from invading other countries and claiming them for ourselves just because we could. That’s not something to be proud of, the EU unified us with a big part of the World, something valuable in the pursuit of peace.
Britain relies on importing…
I’m now looking at the word count on this blog post and wondering if I should stop. But I’ve got so much more to say and I think it’s important to put it down. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed since being in Spain is that when you go to a shop, the vast majority of stuff is made in Spain. We spoke to our friends about how the UK imports ridiculous things and they couldn’t believe that it was normal to buy prawns from the Philippines and lamb from New Zealand even though these are both things that the UK should be able to farm themselves in a sustainable way. I know those two examples aren’t relevant to the Europe issue, although they are still insane. So, I did some research and within the top 15 export/import partners for the UK, 10 of these are European. How will this impact the British economy now that we’re out of the EU? No one knows yet, isn’t that a little bit worrying. I was also shocked to see the list of top ten commodities that the UK exports, none of them are anything that can’t and isn’t already made somewhere else in the world too, which also makes me question Britain’s value to the rest of the world. I’m no expert, but it does make you wonder.
What do you think? What do we do next?
Me and Miz were chatting about the reaction to the result, which in our networks in mostly of anger and disappointment from Remain supporters. We were all quick to head to Twitter and Facebook to rant and complain, but that won’t actually DO anything will it? At one point in history or maybe in another country, it would have been normal and expected for those disgruntled citizens to take to the streets and protest, encourage a revolution! What do we do? We write blogs and sign online petitions.
We’re sitting here now, majorly distracted by all that is wrong with the world and thinking, planning and pondering what we can really do to make a difference. If you have an idea, thought or know of a cause that is making a difference, please let us know via comment, Twitter or email and if we have any bright ideas, we’ll let you know!
Please don’t let this issue fade, let’s try and keep the conversation going, look out for each other, look out for what is morally right and what is genuinely better for our future and the future of our children and our friends too.