On the morning of June 24th I woke up to the voice of David Cameron resigning on the telly I’d fallen asleep in front of whilst watching the results until 3.30 AM. My heart sank. Anxious sickness tightened in my chest. Mourning ensued. And the phrase, “You know it’s a bad day when you’re devastated about Cameron standing down,” was spoken and typed over and over.
The EU referendum was no doubt the biggest political event of my lifetime. Never before have so many of us Brits been asked to make such a huge decision on something they only know marginally about. Never before have so many of us turned out at the polling stations to vote.
It was a referendum that was misinformed, built on lies and sensationalism. On both sides. It has brought out the worst in my little island. To the rest of Europe, I am sorry. We are not only now divided as a country, but as a continent.
Not all who voted out were racists, but all who are racist voted out. Europe, I am sorry that these people now feel like they have a license to wrongfully abuse. I am sorry that many people you hold dear living on my shores are being subjected to violence and offense. I am sorry that an old German lady is too frightened to leave her home. I am sorry that there are notes being pushed under the doors of Polish families living in London calling them vermin.
I am sorry that this is happening, but from myself and the 48.1% of us who wanted to remain: we love you. Always have and always will. You broadened our horizons, you allowed love and friendship to travel freely, you imported culture and laughter and relationships to our land that would not have been possible without you, and I promise to do all that I can to keep your families, friends, and long-lost-lovers safe on this island.
You see, it’s not you, it’s the 51.9% of us. Europe, you are beautiful and strong, fierce and wonderful. You don’t need us, but we sure as hell need you. We are coming across as sectarian, insular and ignorant, but over one million people are full of regret for their vote to leave. Over one million people have realised the lies they have been told. Over one million people would change their vote if they could.
Europe, I am not ready to leave you. I’m in deep, deep love with the wild Julian Alps of Slovenia, I need fresh Portuguese seafood with my soul-sisters to be a regular thing and I am intimately involved with the calm, cultured waterways of Venice. You hold some of my most cherished memories in your hills and on your roads, in the shadows of your palaces and toe-deep in your sand. I already miss you, and you’re not even yet gone.
You see, I thought we had a future together. I thought my children would roam across your borders without a care in the world. I envisaged the wedding of my first daughter in Italy; have always dreamt of a home in the French Alps.
I am sorry that this is no longer easy, and I am sorry we cannot go on. But for the record, Europe, I will always love you.