What To Do If You Meet A Leave Voter

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 10.35.03After 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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2 responses to “What To Do If You Meet A Leave Voter

  1. Hi Kimwei, you make some resonating observations and I really appreciate your closing sentiment. I wish I could be as open-minded with you in your final regard but I did speak to quite a few Leave voters prior to the referendum as my rural village mainly consists of retired over 65s (we socialise with them mainly for geographical reasons since we, like you, tend to hang out with like-minded individuals and all our social media buds were Remain voters). I shockingly discovered a rhetoric of bigotry, prejudice and stubborn ignorance/refuting of the truth. No matter how much my husband and I tried to persuade people otherwise, the referendum Leave campaign encouraged and legitimised this sort of inhumane thinking that ‘the other/the foreigner’ is an enemy that needs to be obliterated or an economic asset to be abused and controlled. I’m slowly working on coming to grips with what happened and am actively looking to emigrate for my daughter’s sake and future more than anything. If I wasn’t afraid for her future, I’d want to stay and contribute to the dialogue that promotes fairness, equality and international cooperation founded on peace, not profit. However, now that a campaign that has legitimised the very things I find most evil about humanity has been glorified, I’m finding it even harder to speak to Leave voters, even though I know that’s the right thing to do moving forward (currently we’ve excommunicated ourselves from our community and are having trouble with family too due to the divide). How would you approach the ‘blatant racist’ hurdle? Or even the more mild Leave voter whose reasoning is based on Britons being first, and that ‘ “they” can’t come over here and steal Britons’ jobs’?

    • I can completely understand what you’re saying. Whilst I’m in favour of remain and leave voters having good conversations, the willingness would have to come from both sides, or there’s no way forward. I’d say that both to remain and leave voters if I could, however, am aware that I’m more likely to be speaking to remain folks by the nature of this article. What to do with and outright racist? I truly wish I knew. As you say, there’s very little point in my chasing after a car which may be the source of a racist remark shouted to me from its window, calling out ‘hey, let’s talk about this and compare and contrast our viewpoints!’ I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a harsh experience in your area. Warm wishes to you both.

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