Brexit, a personal response

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There is nothing that I can say about the outcome of the EU referendum and the prospect of Brexit that isn’t much better summed up in the comment from Nicholas (above in the Financial Times).

I have felt so many emotions over the past day – disbelief, shock, hurt, sadness, anger, betrayal…

On a personal level, my job is affected to an extent and I will now need to look into registering in Ireland to allow me to continue to work for my clients in the way that I do currently, however, it’s on a wider level that I feel the most sad.

I remember being at school and learning about the European Union, I remember colouring in stars on the flag and I feel so privileged now to have grown up believing that the whole European market was open to me – to holiday, to live to work… I studied law and European law at university and spent a semester living abroad in Hamburg. In those four months I took advantage of one of the fundamental freedoms that the European Union afforded me, the free movement of people. Over the course of four months I grew so much as a person. I laughed, cried, partied, drank, explored, learnt, and lived with people from throughout Europe, there is nothing like living in another country to really expand the mind and your horizons.

Living in Germany spurred me on to improve upon the German I learnt at school and so every Tuesday night I trot off to City Lit for a German class. Whilst I know that my German will never be good enough for me to do my job in German (I spend an awful lot of my time each day thinking about and manipulating what I write in English), I have always had it in the back of mind that living in a German-speaking country was an option open to me if I so chose. When we leave the European Union that choice becomes a lot more difficult to make.

Beyond the arguments about the free movement of goods, and the implications for the economy, it saddens me that the impetus for learning a European language will diminish further, a generation will become more inward-looking and insular and I fear that as a nation we will become more xenophobic. I, along with millions of others, benefited from the Erasmus programme and free movement and I am a changed person because of it. I feel sorry that we are closing our doors out of fear of letting people in, when maybe we should be more concerned about the fact that we aren’t allowing our young people out. Out into the world. Out into a community bigger than the island we live on. Out into a world of different people and views and experiences.

So much has been lost…

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  • Very well written. I feel the same way on so many levels but I’m scared in a way that those who voted leave don’t care. That’s what frightens me – the level of reactionary politics.

  • I still just don’t understand. I benefitted from the Erasmus programme too and although our University has already reassured those in first year that their residence abroad will be unchanged, I can’t help thinking that interest and enthusiasm for it will decrease. From a personal perspective, I’m graduating in July from a degree in English and French and I’m devastated at the negative impact it will have on my ability to live and work abroad and some of the opportunities I now may have lost. From a general perspective, I’m worried about the economy, the environment, but I’m mainly worried about backwards attitudes being strengthened. I will by no means generalise all Leave voters as Xenophobic but like you, I’m worried that as a nation those ideas will be spread and I’m worried that those ideas have been applauded by the outcome they wanted.

    My hope is that the 48% of the country who did vote Remain will come together to do all we can to ensure that Multiculturalism, Social Liberalism, acceptance and all others like these are still taught in schools and instilled in our minds and our country. I may be wrong, but I feel like Remain voters have a more united and like-minded front than Leave voters and I think we have a very strong voice, especially as a younger generation who will in turn become leaders of the country.

    Imogen x

  • Such a well-written and heartfelt post that I (sadly) found myself nodding along with. I studied in Germany too and my boyfriend is a German teacher so both of us are very concerned about what this means for us. My whole life changed for the better when I spent time living in another country, broadening my horizons, learning a new language and developing all the skills I’m so proud of now and it makes me desperately sad that others will be denied that experience. I think the thing that upsets me the most is that, with the number of people who voted Leave and the number of people who just didn’t didn’t care enough to vote, I can only identify with around a third of the population. It’s just an awful, awful situation.

  • I agree, we totally shouldn’t have left! It really annoyed me the fact that some people are so naive!! x

  • I completely agree. I also studied German and lived there for a year. I had hoped to live there again in the future, but the continent – and world – suddenly seems shut off, where it once seemed open. It’s the saddest thing, especially as the majority was so thin.

  • I love this post, it’s truly sad what happened but I think reading it from the point of view of people who actually live in the UK is super important in helping the rest of the world understand how it will affect them as well.
    x Kenzie //

  • The thing that I think saddens me the most is that the campaigns for stay & leave involved so much propoganda. It was a hard task to see the wood from the trees & make an informed decision with the little evidence & fact hidden among lies & scaremongering. I truly hope that the decision to leave is not the disaster many fear it to be, but I am scared by how we are likely to be affected. I hope that those who voted out will be the first to stand up for those who are adversely affected by the decision, which at the moment looks to include people with disabilities. Xx

    Tania | When Tania Talks