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Friday, 24 June 2016

Not My Vote

Hannah Barnes
Yesterday The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU - or rather the most disaffected areas of England and Wales, voted to leave the EU – which has resulted in an increasingly fractured kingdom (although I’m yet to get any backing for the name change).

I come from Manchester, where the majority vote called for Britain to remain within the EU; as did Scotland, Northern Island, London, Cardiff, Bristol, Belfast, Bath, Norwich, Oxford, Cambridge, Liverpool, Leicester and Leeds. If you’re not from The UK, the split won’t mean very much to you, but a few minutes on google should quickly rectify that.  

There is a clear divide within our country; and this divide was present long before The EU Referendum.

The areas listed above, with majority votes for the remain campaign, are (overwhelmingly) our cosmopolitan hot spots. Nowhere is this clearer than in the capital; London, where activists are now attempting to disband from the UK, set up their own city state, and re-join The EU. Manchester too is a vibrant, multi-cultural city filled with people from all walks of life. Much of The UK’s wealth sits in these cities and the majority of our university graduates will live, work and play within their walls.

The areas who chose to leave The EU, and indeed got their wish, on the other hand, are places where government cuts, ignorance and career politics have hit the worst. These are the areas that make up benefits Britain, the places that it’s hardest to crawl out of, and easiest to fall into. These are the areas where people most need our help – and yet, these too, are the areas which received the most EU funding, were championed most by Labour, who ran a strong (and factually based) remain campaign, which was, ultimately, completely ignored. These are the people who have lost all faith in British, and perhaps western, politics; they feel they have been left behind, marginalised and disregarded.  

This was not a vote to leave the EU, this was a vote against the status quo.
The Fractured Kingdom is now facing the largest economic slump since the last largest economic slump and those hit worst by the first, will be forced to weather the second, thanks to the misguided view that The EU was somehow to blame for conservative mishandling of the budget.

Those who voted to leave, based on immigration and benefits cuts, have been sorely used by Nigel Farage and his band of xenophobic brothers – having now handed sole power over the government of our country to our own British politicians, the majority of whom are currently from the conservative party. Yep, the same party who have been systematically marginalising and disregarding those most vulnerable within our society; the poor and disaffected, since they came to power 5 years ago. What’s more, Cameron has resigned and much like the 'unelected' EU government many Brits took such issue with, we are now facing 3 years under the leadership of an unelected Tory MP (sounds appealing, no?).
The EU Referendum resulted in the largest show of voters we’ve seen in decades, which leads to another awkward irony – the majority of those casting their votes to leave, and in doing so casting their votes against the status quo and the conservative government, could have prevented their own catalyst. Had they turned out to vote in last year’s general election, we’d have been in a very different position this week.

The leave campaign has already began backtracking on many of their promises, whereas the predictions of the remain camp are unfolding before our eyes. The majority of our population somehow managed to disregard all factual evidence and instead base their vote on the xenophobic hysteria created by Farage and Johnson; both charismatic, likeable British politicians, in stark contrast to the cowardly Cameron and his stuffy conservative party.

What this tells me, is that the wheel of politics is indeed broken; we need more engagement, better policing of the facts and an injection of integrity into the houses of parliament.

I don’t believe we should have left The EU, and I am heartsick to think of the opportunities that have been taken from our children, as well as those that have been taken from ourselves. 

As a millennial, I’m all too aware that another large segment of the leave vote was made up by the elderly of our country (another vulnerable section of society), and whilst they have every right to vote, they will not have to live with the decision for as long as the younger generations - who were overwhelmingly on the side of the remain campaign. A generation raised on free education, guaranteed pensions, social mobility and free movement across Europe and interest rates so fantastic they crashed the banks, has voted to strip our generation of so much, and in doing so have put the wheels in motion for an extremely unstable era for the whole world.

And this is what it comes down to. The EU has overseen the longest period of peace in European history, but with other countries now threatening to pull out, under very similar smoke screens, that hard earned peace is under threat. The right-wing win of yesterday has set a chain of events in motion, that should instill fear in the hearts of anyone who knows their history.

I am afraid for what my country is becoming, and I want it noted; somewhere, anywhere, that I took no part in this. I voted to remain; I voted for love and harmony and acceptance. I voted as a global citizen of the world and whatever atrocities come next: I will have no part in them.  

Hannah Barnes / Author & Editor

I keep myself busy with my small business; The Loft Gifts, the period poverty charity I run; The Crimson Wave, writing here and for vaious platforms and a growing menagerie of household pets.


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