THE BLOG

Europe Has Been Stolen From My Generation

01/07/2016 12:14 | Updated 01 July 2016

Time to speak up, I was too gutted last Friday to write a single word. I just cried all morning for the country and everything that's so suddenly and sickeningly been ripped away from us.

My grandfather fought in WW2, saw his best friend killed by a German, and told me that the EU was a symbol of hope for us all, having helped to establish the peace he'd given up his youth for. When I had the opportunity to study an Erasmus year in Spain, my closest friends were Germans, and we smiled and reflected on how only a few years before our grandparents had been at war with one other. It felt like we'd come so far.

My experience in Spain taught me so much about how we are more similar than different, how we can learn from each other's cultures and how we are better off when working together, even if that's not always the easiest route. It's why I've chosen to base my life and career in Brussels, with friends and colleagues from all over Europe, trying to keep these challenging ideals alive.

I'm in my twenties, come from an ordinary background and I was state educated. However you feel about the EU, and it's in no way perfect, it has been a force for meritocracy. Until Friday, if you studied at a British university, a whole world could open up to you through Erasmus. I'm a product of this outward-looking European society, and it saddens me others will be denied the same possibilities - even though people aged 18-25 overwhelmingly voted to remain. The irony is that leave voters, in rejecting the 'establishment' have in turn opted for an even more elitist, right-wing leadership, educated at expensive schools and universities - unlikely to defend the hard-fought values of social mobility.

My boyfriend is French, another cross-channel alliance. After the blow of a vote to leave, it's hard to see his place in my country now. Even if London and other metropolitan areas did their best to reject the leave campaign's anti-immigration thrust, as a nation we've collapsed in on ourselves. Now we begin the long, messy process of disentangling ourselves from Europe and the many cultural and economic benefits it has privileged us with.

ONE of the things that saddens me about this referendum and the result (and there are too MANY to write here) is that the leave campaign's "victory" was won on the back of lies, manipulation and blatant propaganda. In a single day, the leave vote has wiped out more money than we paid into the EU in the last 15 years. That is the extent of the madness. It's too sad.

There should never have been a referendum on an issue so complex and multi-faceted. This is not an issue for badly informed people to decide on. The British government and our national press has always been reluctant to educate people about the EU, what it stands for, the good work it does - from health and food safety, worker's rights, climate protection, financial regulation, culture, science, research, and promoting peace, tolerance and stability. A fact all too apparent on Friday when people began Googling 'what the EU is' AFTER they'd voted. A media controlled by tycoons such as Dacre and Murdoch (the real unelected powerhouses of the country) have sought to gradually nibble away at the image of the EU, passing it the blame for decisions taken at Westminster.

Referendums are best when they are local, or for single issues that can be solved with a simple yes/no answer. If a referendum was needed on our role in Europe, it should have posed another question, such as 'is the EU in need of reform?' - something which could have kick-started a real debate, with a mandate from the British people. Not this.

This referendum was never really about Europe anyway and we all know that. It was devised to heal tory party wounds (and has done anything but), and was used by voters as an opportunity to vent frustration about our divided and increasingly unequal society. Alas, the turkeys have well and truly voted for Christmas this time.

Through collective ignorance, we have just brought about our own, staggering downfall. We are no longer a United Kingdom. This is the era of little England, disunity, dwindling power and status in the world, increasing insecurity. I struggle to see any hope in the situation. We didn't 'take back control' - such a seductive but ultimately empty notion. In fact, we've just handed over our control to Brussels. We are now at the mercy of our EU neighbours - the future of the UK now rests with 27 other nations and their goodwill towards us. They will decide what kind of deal we get. Let's hope they are nicer than we've shown ourselves to be over the past few months.

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