This will go down in history as the day Europe, or a small part of it, got over its desire for post-war peace.
It heralds the near-certain break-up of the UK. Within a generation I would guess there’ll be a rump UK consisting of England and Wales (Engles?) Or then again, perhaps not even Wales, which would make it, well England.
In the guise of saving their country, the Little Englanders will have brought down one of the longest-standing and most successful political unions in history, the United Kingdom. All things come to an end sooner or later, but how paradoxical to be brought down by those professing to love you the most.
I am heartbroken at what this means for our country, our continent, our minorities and our young people.
There is no getting over the fact that this vote was driven primarily by xenophobia. Yes of course there’s been a toxic drip-feed for decades from the populist press along the lines of “Barmy Brussels Bosses Ban Bendy Bananas (bollocks, and hence my tribute headline). So people’s ideas of what the EU means to them have always been skewed.
But time and time again, the individual reasons I’ve heard, and the clear motivation of Farage, is to to keep Britain for the British (by which most of them mean white people of Christian heritage, born on a small set of islands in the North Atlantic).
I have literally heard of Christians standing up to address a meeting urging an “out” vote because Hitler was German. I’ve heard of people voting out because Muslims are being promoted over them at work (how leaving the EU will “fix” this, I’m not sure!). I’ve heard endless people objecting to Eastern Europeans, the very people they are happy to pay at minimal rates to stop their taps dripping and look after their babies.
And let’s not get into the tragic fact that Europe has collectively wanted to shut its doors to refugees fleeing unimaginable horror – people who have done exactly what we would do if circumstances were reversed.
The British Brexit vote strengthens the hand of racists and xenophobes far beyond the UK. Far-right parties will not be slow to seize the moment. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders is already calling for an exit vote.
What the UK has opted out of is the collective good of Europe, collective support for those living closest to us; Team Europe building peace, rights, justice and equality across a vast section of the continent. Oh, and forming an effective trading bloc rather than pitching 64m Brits against 1.4bn Chinese – hardly a fair fight in trading terms.
So it’s a xenophobe’s charter, it’s a vote driven by arrogance and fear – not by the desire for love, unity, supporting the weakest and sharing the incredible wealth we have. To know that some fellow-Christians have vehemently supported the Brexit vote believing this is God’s own country and we have to presumably keep the heathen hordes at bay is even more depressing. Did those feet in ancient times walk upon England’s mountains green? No they didn’t, so get over it.
My nephew – himself taking advantage of his right as an EU citizen to live and work in Paris – has issued a challenge on Facebook to come up with the most doom-laden prediction.
Well it seems tragically likely to me that people will die as a result of this vote (I guess I should say more people, after the murder of Jo Cox). Maybe not today, this week, next week.
But in years and generations to come, as Europe realises there are things it wants more than peace, the law of unintended consequences will kick in. Anti-migrant pogroms? Political unrest? Economically driven violence? Conflict? Who knows and I hope I’m totally wrong on my whole thesis. History will unfold and we will see. But the turkeys may well have voted for Christmas – not just for themselves but for everyone else too.
The English may not yet know what they have done.