Ah, Brexit. Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. That thing no one, including those who voted for or promoted it, ever thought would actually happen.
I talk a little bit about Brexit, and the effect it had on my determination to vote via absentee ballot in the United States’ upcoming (and now very fraught) presidential election, in my latest piece for Refinery29.
As belated as this post is, I think I can see the Brexit blow-up clearer now that I’ve had time to process it. To be perfectly honest, it was like being punched in the face – and then in the brain. People were angry, and they voted to Leave the European Union because that was their only way to engender real change for themselves.
The problem is, no one had (or has) a plan. Not Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned immediately after the vote, not Nigel Farage, who campaigned on false promises to give the NHS millions of pounds among other things and then promptly quit once Brexit happened, not anyone in UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), and not Leave supporter and former Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who also bowed out of the running for a new Prime Minister. If that sentence was painful to read, imagine how it was to live it.
The UK news cycle almost had no idea what to do with itself. Resignations and buck-passing mounted with each passing day, as dire forecasts were made on the future of the UK in a global market, let alone a European one. It all felt, and still feels, very grim. Then Theresa May became the new PM by dint of being the last one standing, and she’s promised to go through with Brexit. Her political history is alarmingly racist, classist, and anti-immigration, but you’d never know it from her most recent speeches, wherein she vows to fight for the common people. Then there’s the unrelated fact that I simply don’t know how I feel about someone who spells Teresa with an unpronounced “h”.
I’m truly not a very political person, because I have yet to see a politician who pursues that career to actually help people, rather than fuel their own megalomania, desire for power and fame, or other psychological issues. (The current US election rigamarole is a fantastic real-life example.) This means my expectations are incredibly low for the usefulness of modern politics, and the systems that do exist are often broken beyond repair.
But Brexit isn’t a very political situation at its core. To me, it is simple: Brexit is about people. People who have been marginalized in the UK and used their vote to show their anger for the system, and people who have been marginalized or persecuted elsewhere and seek to start over in the UK.
The crux of the issue is that although these two camps seem to be dichotomous, they share some similar feelings and desires. But they have been pitted against each other in a wave of racist anti-immigration campaigning and fear mongering. We’re being played against each other, and the only way to win is to push for more understanding, more compassion, more love, more sharing of cultures. We may live in post-Brexit Britain, but we live here together and must make it work.