It has now been a week since we woke up to the result that a majority of British citizens (albeit a very small majority) had voted to leave the European Union. When it became clear that Vote Leave and Leave.EU had won, Nigel Farage in his usual annoying way, declared that the 24th June be the UK’s independence day. A silly concept, but its Farage, when does he not say silly things.
While one side of the debate was very happy with the result, it follows that the other side be upset. If anything has become clear with this referendum, the UK has become a very divided country.
Deave Cameron resigns
Upon conformation of the result, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated in a speech that he would resign as soon as a new leader of the Conservative Party could be elected. While this was not very surprising, it has created a mess for the next, would be Prime Minister.
If trying to heal and unify the nation was not enough, they will have to start and carry out the negotiations with the EU. The result of this realisation is that every leader of Vote Leave has gone back on their key campaign pledges – the biggest being the promise to spend the £350 million per week we send to Brussels on the NHS. A rather stupid pledge since the net spend is significantly less.
Scotland, London and Northern Ireland
How divided is the country really? – very. All 32 local authorities in Scotland votes to remain in the EU. This, rather predictably has led to calls for a second independence referendum. Both Northern Ireland and London also voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. A petition to make London independent has reached 178,000 and has caused the creation of quite a cool hashtag #londependence.
However, more importantly, is the demographics behind the vote. 73% of 18-24 year olds voted to remain, contrary to the 60% who are over 65 who voted to leave. Inevitably, this has caused a rift between younger and older generations. The former believe the older generations have stolen their futures, while the latter believe they are providing a brighter future for the younger. Either way, it will take a long time to heal this rift.
Rise in hate crime
A key trait of the post-Brexit vote, is the increase in hate crime against those who are not British, i.e. EU citizens. The question here, however, has the number of racists increased during the referendum campaign, or have racists been emboldened to be more high profile. The latter is for sure the more probable explanation, but what has emboldened the racists to be more disgusting than they usually are?
The way the referendum campaign was conducted is the reason why hate crime has risen in the aftermath of the vote. The campaign made it socially acceptable to be negative toward EU migrants with the word ‘immigrant’ becoming a derogatory term. While the blame belongs to the leave campaign and their disgraceful ‘Breaking Point’ poster, I am in no way saying that the other side was much better.
"Needs to be less of the emotional argument"
If the death of Jo Cox and this rise in xenophobia have taught us anything, it is that the way politics in this country is conducted needs to change. There needs to be less of the emotional argument and more fact-based debate which will allow the public to make an informed opinion.
Whoever is elected the next leader of the Conservative party, thus the next Prime Minister, will have the task of healing the country. It is my deepest hope that politicians recognise the divisive effects that the referendum has had, and that they act to clean up politics. But we will have to wait and see, this will dominate politics for months if not years. #Foreign Policy #World Politics #Foreign Affairs