So Britain has voted and has decided to leave the European Union with 51.9% of the electorate voting to take Britain out of the of the EU. As a member of the 48.1% who voted to stay disappointment is an understatement. Having been unable to sleep and staying up all night tuned into BBC to see the results heartbreak is the only word I can think of that sums up the result. The emotions that most sprung as the night went on was anger and grief.
It started become clear what way the vote was going when the Newcastle and Sunderland results came in, Newcastle voted to remain but by a far smaller margin than had been predicted and Sunderland voted to leave by a far larger margin than was expected. These results would become common place as the night went on, Remain won in the places it was expected, Scotland, Northern Ireland, London and the major Metropolitan areas but Leave dominated in the North East of the country by huge margins.
As someone who had campaigned, donated money to the remain campaign and argued the case for continued membership of the EU it was a hard pill to swallow. I describe the feeling of a leave win as being kicked in the stomach repeatedly. Even now I find my thoughts on the matter difficult to express. As someone who considers themselves a citizen of Europe it feels like part of myself has been ripped away from me. In my eyes the European Union represents opportunity and it now feels like Britain has closed itself off to that opportunity. It is an even harder pill to swallow as I was in one of the age groups that most emphatically voted to stay in the EU.
I cannot pretend that the European Union is perfect, it's handling of the migrant crisis and its attempts to solve the Greece problem more than raise a few eye brows but on the whole the EU benefits its members hugely. Co-operation so many countries that in centuries past had always been at war with each, the freedom of movement for those seeking to work, the opportunities for students and young people are all things that the EU does so well and to see Britain isolate itself from those things I find upsetting.
I think for those who do feel let down by the vote I think you have every right to feel the way you do and you have every right to express those feelings. I can tell you now I have been told by leave voters to "get over it" or to "suck it up." Maybe these people have a point, the majority has decided but I would argue that regardless we live in a democracy and have freedom of speech. I view this as an assault on my future and I think that Britain is now more divided than ever and this vote was one that was made in ignorance. Those are my feelings and I will express that view point because let's be honest with ourselves, if Remain had won do you think Leave voters would not be calling it a fix or saying that the vote had been stolen from them?
Furthermore, as the dust does settle we can now see the damage that has been caused, a leave vote has divided the country more than ever. Scotland is already in talks with Brussels about how to stay in the EU and are already planning a second Independence Referendum. Northern Ireland is batting around the idea of reunification with the Republic of Ireland so it maintains its EU membership. Young voters massively voted to remain part of the EU and there is even talks of London wanting to become its own independent city state at its repulsion of the vote. The leave vote which was by a tiny margin in the end has not brought unity to the country.
It becomes increasingly painful as you see Leave voters on the television expressing their views, with one man saying he voted to leave because he wanted all Muslims out the country, with another unemployed woman saying she was so happy about the result because of the Polish stealing British jobs - when she herself admitted she was not looking for work. Worse still is the woman who now regrets her vote after seeing the aftermath. Even more humiliating is Google releasing search information suggesting that people after the referendum result were looking to see what the EU actually was.
Personally I feel regret and guilt, guilt because I was someone who voted Conservative at the last election in full knowledge that a referendum was on the table. Even when I was opposed to EU membership being put to a referendum. I regret that I supported a party that banned 16 and 17 year olds from voting in the Referendum. For me I must now acknowledge that I supported and paid membership into the party that has pulled us out the European Union. In even the tiniest part I hold a degree of responsibility and I must come to terms with that.
In terms of the future a Second Referendum should be strongly considered, this is not so we can get to the "right" answer but because the leave campaign based everything on a lie. Only an hour after the Referendum result Nigel Farage admitted on Good Morning Britain that the key campaign pledge that the £350 million would not be spent on the NHS. Also it was admitted by key leave campaigner Daniel Hannan that free movement of Labour from Europe would not end. And remember for the leave side this was not a storming victory, they won by 1.8%, it is not like they won by 5% points which would have been enough to put it to bed. Nigel Farage has in the past said that there would be unfinished business if Remain had won by the margin we ended up with. The same should apply now that the result has been the other way round. There is mostly certainly unfinished business.
If this is the end though and Britain is to leave the European Union it isn't really the end because those who sought to remain in the EU are not an insignificant minority, we are over 16 million people and we have a voice that must be heard in these negotiations and in the future we can vote to join the EU again. For now, if we do have accept the result be emotional and do the feel the pain of this because it is a tragedy for those of us who believed in a progressive future but the fight can and will go on.