Currently in the UK watching the Brits instead of the Swedes. At breakfast this morning I reflected over the Brexit referendum that takes place tomorrow, the day I make my exit back to Scandinavia. I can’t vote in this referendum, even though I’m British, because I’ve lived abroad for more than 15 years. I might not have the right to vote but I do have the right to my opinion.
Many Brits are truly confused over this. It seems like the arguments are contradictory and vague. Both the remain side and the leave side are using propaganda scare tactics to clinch the vote. False information abounds, unrealistic statistics and outright lies are published in the newspapers. Celebrities are publicly coming out on both sides of the campaign.
What this referendum seems to be about, for those wanting to leave, is simply immigration. Fuelled by racist politicians and nationalistic media, the message is ‘make Britain great again’. There is a clear sense of victimisation amongst some people – poor Britain brought to its knees by the evil EU. (When in fact Britain is highly respected and has a powerful voice in the EU). Old conflicts bubble to the surface – Britain won two world wars and now they are cow towing to the Germans and Angela Merkel. And there is a constant fear of being under attack and overrun by refugees queuing up on the other side of the Channel.
I get that people feel disenchanted with the EU and not in control of their own lives. In my mind that has to do with the policies of the UK and less to do with the EU. If you elect David Cameron as PM, you get his cost-cutting, welfare-slashing, begrudging cynical policies.
There is no denying that the UK has serious problems. It saddens me to see that there are significant rifts in society, between the remains and the leaves, the Scots and the English, the rich and the poor, the working and the unemployed, the ethnic Brits and the immigrants. Britain is not embracing its changing identity and instead is feeling a strong sense of loss. And the insecurity and frustration this causes makes people look to the past to the halcyon days of the British empire, when ‘things were better’. But this is an irretrievable illusion, a fantasy. We need to deal with the here and now, and Britain has a lot of healing to do.
With Brexit, we can debate about economy, trade, freedom of movement, peace, immigration, taxation but the bottom line is a philosophical one. Do you want to live in a country that looks to the past, that isolates itself and looks inwards? Or do you want to live in a country that looks to the future, cooperates with others and looks outwards? For me it’s a no brainer. The EU has its flaws, but it’s better to be a part of it to be able to influence and improve it.
If I could vote, I would proudly vote to REMAIN.