Today is Friday. Friday is a day when I come home from work and check which blog post is to be published. Quite often, I schedule them so far in advance, I forget what I’m going to tell my readers this week. Today, I’d planned a “day-in-the-life” kind of diary entry, but you’ll have to wait for that one I’m afraid. Today’s post is a break from the usual exploits my minion and I get up to for your reading joy. Sorry, but today, I have something very different for you.
Today is Friday. Friday 24th June 2016. An historic day, following a vote in my home country as to whether Great Britain will continue to live and work and exist under the protective arm of the European Union, or go it alone like the stubborn old goats we apparently are in our heart of hearts.
In four short hours, the value of the Pound Sterling
dropped plummeted, at one point by 10%, although it has now plateaued at 8%. As I’m typing this, furiously battering my keyboard, I’m personally cursing the injustice that I’m now going to have to think even harder about the exchange rate of GBP-USD now that it’s settled at around $1.35 to £1. Maths has never been my strong suit, but trying to work out around one and a half USD to GBP was a much easier calculation yesterday than it is today. My currency exchange app that I’ve been using to convert Vietnamese Dong, Thai Bhat and Cambodian Riel into USD and GBP since the beginning of my travels has completely crashed and won’t update its rates.
My Facebook newsfeed has been inundated with sad faces; that emoji with the lone tear falling down its cheek; of people predicting similarly atrocious results in the upcoming US Election; of people berating a Prime Minister who has resigned on a decent salary for the rest of his days whilst his country around him blunders around trying to work out “What now…?”. I for one have posted a status with the F-bomb in it, which, whilst in person I can use really quite colourful language from time to time, I try to keep my online persona as cool as possible. Not today.
I think that what bothers me most about the result is that I do not for one second believe that the British people who voted Brexit actually understand what they have voted for. I don’t pretend to know the inner workings of Parliament, Politics, the way in which the European Union is governed. I do know though, that the EU, or rather its preceding organisations were originally set up to promote unity after the Second World War. We are still in need now of that same harmony and collaborative effort than ever before. Instead, what has happened is Nationalist leaders in other EU member states have demanded they also be given the right to hold a referendum such as the UK. France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark have all had prominent leaders making comments about following in Britain’s footsteps.
It pains me to say it, but I have not helped the remain party. Though I currently reside outside of the UK, I could have voted, by post or by proxy. Now, the Cambodian postal service is really quite terrible, and the instructions to register as a proxy voter were not the easiest to understand, but I could have overcome these obstacles and placed my vote. The problem I had was more of misplaced faith. Faith in the British people understanding that:
we are only as strong as we are united, weak as we are divided.
I think Albus Dumbledore said that. I am a very firm believer in that if you choose not to vote, then you cannot complain about the outcome, so I’m a filthy hypocrite by my own standards, but I never ever thought that the majority (52%) of Britain would be swayed by a racist campaign, riddled with half-truths as well as blatant lies. How wrong could I be?
Many people have reminded me that the process to actually exit the EU is a long and difficult one. I can only imagine the interconnecting strings that need unravelling before such a tie can be severed. It has only ever been done once, when Greenland wanted to remove itself from the European Communities organisation. In addition, the Referendum of the 23rd June 2016 itself is not legally binding, there are other steps that need to be taken before anything concrete can happen. I should take solace in that.
I should also be comforted by the fact that the vote was pretty close. I mean, it tipped the wrong way in the end, in my opinion, but the fact is, there are just as many people feeling dejected as ecstatic, and as one of my old schoolfriends, Eleanor Fagan, put it on social media: Please people, today, don’t be smug and condescending, or on the other side spiteful and bitter. Appreciate how other people are feeling. Half of the people you meet today will be elated, the other half, crushed. As long as those feelings don’t turn toxic it might just be ok. Otherwise everyone will be at each other’s throats by lunchtime.