The UK really is divided in two for this landmark vote and it looks as though the outcome will be a nail biting finish as it is ridiculously too close to call. Around 3 weeks ago I’d say that the vote lay slightly in favour of staying with the EU but now it appears that slightly more people want Brexit.
As a British person this feels like the most important vote of my life to date and many others have said the same. It’s such an unknown that really who can say what will happen either way? That is the scary thing!
Personally I’m a strong believer in staying with the EU as I believe in strength in numbers and I feel like the world is currently an angrier, more intolerant and scary place and if we stand together we can achieve more. It’s a strange situation as I imagine I’ll feel devastated if I wake up on 24th June and hear that Brexit is a reality however on the other hand I can completely understand why a Brit would vote to leave too. I think this is to do with people’s experiences since joining the EU which is a real mix of positive and negative. To illustrate this point I’m from a small town in the English countryside. There are not many skilled jobs in this part of the world, roles are mainly manufacturing and farming where a large percentage of the workforce are made up of Eastern European workers. Huge numbers of people have steadily arrived in the town over the last few years and it has changed the town completely. On a personal level I feel like the town is thriving with new life which is great but I know there have been tensions brewing and there has been pressure on local services such as schools, doctor’s surgeries and dentists. There have been lots of new houses built however hardly any new services provided to support the town’s growing population which is not good for anyone. Immigration is probably the biggest reason for people wanting to leave the EU and in some cases it is understandable. I don’t feel like it affects me personally, I’m very pro-immigration as I feel like because of the UK’s strong position we attract lots of highly skilled and useful residents who contribute lots to the economy and society but I have been told by people whose opinions I trust (who are not going to blame everything on immigration) that it is a real issue in certain industries such as the building industry. This is due to the fact that immigrants will work for a lot less then British workers, therefore employers prefer to take them on which breeds a lot of resentment with the Brits. However, abiding by the rules of fairness I’m sure there are some people who just jump on the ‘immigration bandwagon’ as they are an easy target to blame for the country’s woes! I must say for someone like me who has a degree and has worked in marketing for years in London I don’t feel that immigration is a key issue for me but I do realise there are 2 sides to the coin so people need to be listened to as there has been a tendency in the UK to label anyone with worries about immigration as a racist which has backfired hugely as people are now voting with their feet.
Continuing with this theme I’d say that the Brexit group is definitely split in two – one has a fascist, racist, element to it lead by UKIP’s Nigel Farage and one which is a bit more balanced, they feel like 2 different parties to me. I’ve always been proud of how welcoming the British are to people who come and live in this country and adopt it as their own so I’d hate for this to change. After having stints of living in Spain and France I’ve witnessed how this is not always the case so if Brexit is successful I hope we don’t go too far down the wrong road as that would be devastating. I’d be sad to live in a society where the far right such as the National Front got 25% of the vote…
Another issue which probably won’t be a big consideration for many Brits (but is for me after living there) is Gibraltar which is the UK territory located at the bottom of Spain. I worry for them if the UK leaves the EU. Spain has already said it will claim it as their own as this battle has been raging on for years so the Gibraltarians will pretty much be stuck as Spain will make their lives a misery.
I worry what will happen to the economy if Brexit takes place this week and how long it will take to recover if the worst happened. The value of the pound will surely plummet over night and we’ve only just got over one recession, the thought of a potential second one is terrifying. Also what will happen to my job as my company operates in various European countries which would be made more difficult if there were new legislations to deal with? All of this is hearsay as we don’t know what will happen but it all feels pretty grim.
I feel like the EU has given me so much – my French husband (who I met whilst working in London where he could live freely without a visa). Opportunities to live in beautiful European locations – Provence, Andalusia and Gibraltar. Plus a European identity which I did not really feel before the UK joined the EU. Sure, the EU has provided some pretty, silly rules about things such as what shape a banana should be!! But it’s more laughable then anything. What’s important to me is that I’d like my children to have the same opportunities and experiences that I’ve had and I keep the future generations at the forefront of my mind when I think about this momentous vote on Thursday.
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