Looking for Hope in the EU Referendum

When I saw the news Friday morning I was honestly gobsmacked. I had believed all along that Remain would eventually win through and genuinely thought I wouldn’t be as close as everyone was making out. When I went to bed at around 11 both Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage had more or less conceded defeat. 6 hours later and I’m waking up to news that WE have voted to leave.

I don’t think I have ever felt the same feeling about a political event. Yes, I have voted in general elections and ‘my side’ have lost. But with that you know that there is still a level of consistency about what will happen in the future. And as much as I may agree about one policy or another, there are a lot of constants to cling on to. This time it was different.

I wanted to rant. I wanted to put all of the thoughts in my head down in writing. I wanted to smash BREXIT faces one by one into a photo of Boris Johnson. Look {smash} at {smash} what {smash} you’ve {smash} done {smash}.
But as satisfying as that might have been, it wouldn’t have achieved anything. So I decided to take all of the things that have been wrong with this referendum and turn them into hope. A hope for the future that we will take these lessons and never make the same mistakes again.

Hope #1: People understand the importance of their vote

The turnout of the referendum as 72%, far higher than any general election in 20 years. But in the days since the result we have seen people come out saying they didn’t think their vote would matter. People who voted for a BREXIT without thinking it would happen or thinking of the consequences, now left with a regret for their decision.

It can be easy in an election to think your vote doesn’t matter, especially if you are in a majority seat area. But we all need to vote for what we believe and what we think is right.

Hope #2: We force politicians to speak in real terms

The level political argument in not just the referendum but the most recent general election reached a new low in my lifetime, and the information presented by either side treated the voting public with contempt and insulted their intelligence.

This was magnified in the referendum with many people, only now realising what it means to leave the EU. More expensive holidays, loss of the right to work in other countries, restrictions on holiday homes, expensive to study and travel within the EU.

If politicians don’t speak in real terms, it is on you the voter to search out the truth.

Hope #3: Politicians are held to account for their lies

We seem to now live in a world of freedom for politicians to lie. Less than 9 hours after the result was confirmed, Nigel Farage was forced to admit the £350 Million we apparently (but don’t actually) give the EU each week wouldn’t be spent on the NHS. Of course it won’t, but that is what the leave campaign suggested on the side of their bus and hung a large portion of their campaign on. This figure that has been disproven in number of times, they refused to drop. And we as the voters fail, repeatedly to hold them to account.

And the other key lynchpin in the vote, immigration. Again less than 36 hours after the result, leave campaigners forced to backtrack on claims of reduced or more control on immigration.

The British voters, and the British media, have to hold politicians to account for these lies. And moving forward, we have to do this before a vote is cast.

Hope #4: We see past individual political ambitions

We have to realise our politician’s intentions. There is one reason, and one reason alone that Boris Johnson led the leave campaign. His own personal ambitions to be Prime Minister. He saw an opportunity to potentially remove David Cameron and position himself at the front of the queue. Despite being open about his belief in a single EU trade union in the past, he was willing to switch sides for his own personal gain.

Equally the reason we had a referendum in the first place comes down to David Cameron’s desperation to stay at the head of The Conservative Party. He was facing a revolt from the right leaning Conservatives and had to promise the referendum to keep his leadership and secure his position as Prime Minister.

Neither believed we should be leaving the EU, but both were willing to put the country at risk for their own ambitions. And Johnson went one step further to manipulate and mislead 17,410,742 people to get where he wanted to be.

As voters we need to be smart enough to see through this, otherwise we will continue to be pawns in their game.

Hope #5: I hope I am wrong about the future

And the final hope.  I hope I am wrong about the impact this will have on the country, the economy, and our future as a nation.

I’m worried about what the future holds for our country, but I have to cling to hope that we may at least have learnt some lessons about democracy and our role as voters within it.