After last week’s Brexit result, I didn’t know what to react to first – the UK choosing to leave a body created for peace, the divided state of the British public, or the confirmation that many leave voters had acted on misinformation. The results were a diagnosis of the morale and attitudes of the British people as well as our political figures.
Although I travelled through England that preceding week, I didn’t experience the division between Remain and Leave voters, due to a strange phenomenon – I tend to get on with people with whom I have shared values. So, pretty much everyone I spoke to was a Remain voter, keen to turn out on they day and tick their box.
Statistically speaking every third person I met should have been a Leave voter, but it just didn’t work like that. Part of this was geographical (see Guardian). My area (Exeter) was strongly remain.
The 52/48 results showed the UK to be divided (roughly in 3rds, for Leave, Remain and no-show). However it also showed me that, despite believing myself to be tolerant and open minded, like so many, I mainly mix with those who share my viewpoint. You’ll notice the title of this post assumes that if you know me and this blog, you’re probably a remain voter… which you probably are.
Since I’m currently travelling in France, I can tell you that both the French and the ex-pats I’ve met were for strongly Remain. Although not wholly representative of course, this is a more random demographic, since I don’t choose who I meet in France in the same way I can in England. My useful phrase “Quelle impression avez-vous de la situation politique et économique au Royaume-Uni?” is now well worn.
A week later, I still don’t know exactly how to respond to the referendum results. One knee jerk reaction was simply “I’m not going back to that island. I won’t be safe there.” Whilst that may have pushed me to brainstorm some travel ideas, I got over it. Ultimately, I’m a natural traveller, so my desires and choices on that front aren’t going to be based on Brexit.
But, whether we end up leaving Europe or not, what strikes me is that during this whole campaign I didn’t have a good conversation with a Leave voter. I met maybe one or two, but as soon as we realised our opinions differed, we stopped. I won’t do that anymore. It’s clear that the country is divided, and if things are to improve, more than anything, Leave and Remain voters need to talk to each other. I’d say that to both sides, regardless of whether we end up leaving Europe in the end – Not to shout at each other, not to get angry with each other, but really talk to each other.
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