The Referendum

Written by Nick Maurice on .

So that's that! The country has spoken and we now leave the European Union and we are 'on our own'. For those of us that voted to Remain it is a decidedly difficult time.  

Not only do we bitterly regret the outcome of the referendum, but have to ask ourselves whether we individually did enough to persuade our Brexit friends and colleagues that to Leave was the wrong way to vote.

Likewise, given that it is said that only 35 per cent of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 cast their votes - of whom 75 per cent voted to remain - did we do enough to encourage our young to vote given that we are told that the young were much more in favour of Remain than the elderly?

The divisions that have opened up at so many levels - 'United' Kingdom, political leadership, community, business, generational and individual - it will undoubtedly take a long time to heal.  Especially taking account of the uncharted territory in which we now find ourselves, and as I write (from Italy) it seems we are rudderless and without an obvious statesman or woman leader who can lead us forward with the blessing and the collaboration of all - as we face a future which none of us can predict.

Having recently returned from the Calais 'jungle', with the intention of returning in September, I shall find it difficult to face the people that I was working with there whose perception was that, in contrast to so many other countries, Britain is perceived to be a welcoming, hugely diverse country - and largely happily so.  

We have been seen as having a fine record of receiving refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants whether Jews fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s and 40s, Hungarians fleeing the Soviets in the 1950s,  Ugandan Asians fleeing Idi Amin in the 1970s or Caribbeans wanting to come over in the 1950s to improve their lives -  as so many of our young have done and do still, as they emigrate to Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada. If it's alright for these latter.......?

The opportunities to "sit round the table" with our European colleagues and collaborators to discuss the huge global problems we all face whether, migration or climate change have been tragically diminished and I believe that we have been diminished as a country, as has been our standing in the world.

But shedding tears is not enough. When the dust of bitterness and recrimination has settled and the political void has been filled, it will be incumbent on us all to work to counterbalance the new and sad perceptions that others will have of us.

Nick Maurice,