When I cast my vote yesterday for LEAVE, I resolved there was nothing more I could do, other than along with everyone else await the outcome. Given the markets were reckoning on a REMAIN win and the bookies were giving very short odds on such an outcome, I reconciled myself for a nigh inevitable disappointment.
Like many of my friends, I stayed up to watch the developments on the television (or rather I woke up in the early hours and decided I needed to watch the show rather than go back to sleep). I am not being flippant, for I knew a far-reaching decision was about to be announced, with huge implications, and one which would divide the country in ways unprecedented. The biggest shock was finding Brexit had a narrow lead, and this was followed by an early oscillation, especially when the London votes were announced in favour of Remain, as both sides took turns to take the lead, but then Brexit began to pull away and here we are now – LEAVE have won!
Quite a bit of my time since the early hours has been spent in front of the TV screen, looking on at the momentous events that were unfolding, or reading and responding to reactions from my friends on social media. One thing has become evident is among my friends who voted to REMAIN, of which there is a large number, many are feeling despondent and depressed as to what has happened and in a state of shock; some are inconsolable, having to come to terms with the prospect things will now get a whole lot worse. And no wonder, despite faults in the EU at least people thought they knew where they stood, and now all of a sudden it seems they are faced with the prospect of dealing with the unknown. This has not been helped by, among other things, an adverse market reaction regarding sterling and shares, the “regret” and “consequences” responses of leading EU lights concerning the decision the UK had been made, the resignation of the Prime Minister, a call from members of his own party for the Leader of the Opposition to stand down, and a threat of yet another Scottish referendum given Scotland voted to remain.
There is much to reflect on (I will be posting my further more considered thoughts later) but already much has been said by many from among the good and the great, and it seems that all and sundry has a view. Far be it from me to be triumphalistic when so much angst is being experienced and neither is this the time for pious platitudes, although I like what one friend wrote: “Despite disappointment or celebration, we’ll be well served by calm reflection, gracious humility and pragmatic optimism for what lies ahead”. I am mindful too that in my own constituency, the Christians, a wide range of views can be seen, often based on the Bible. But now there is a need for healing and reconciliation, for there has been a lot of hurt. It is time for us to move on and respond to the challenges despite being taken outside our comfort zones.
Regarding the result, I was impressed by the dignified words of the Prime Minister: the people have spoken and we will have to act upon it. Regardless of whether the motive was to give the establishment a bloody nose or the people were ill equipped to be asked to make such an important decision, the fact of the matter they have and it needs to be respected (and that should extend both ways). While some Brexiters voted for the wrong reasons, others who seeing something unsavoury about the EU did not, and it is wrong to demonise them as some do. I firmly believe that it is right for divorce to take place, hopefully amicably, and it needs to be done without undue delay, although I hope we will be good Europeans even so. I have given and stand by forty reasons why I think that to be so (and where immigration for me was only a minor part of it), but now I want to see peace and reconciliation take over from strife and division. There is also a real need for good government to lead us into this new paradigm, supported by any who can help, which should be all of us if it is the good of the country we want.
The person closest to me voted REMAIN. She was right to do so. She had listened to the arguments from both sides and like many of my friends could not be swayed by either and decided in the light of this that she should vote to keep things as they are, mindful that the needs of the country are much greater than whether or not we are in the EU, and that our confidence should rest alone in the Almighty. Yesterday, I happened to visit Westminster on an unrelated matter and saw the large array of tributes in Parliament Square to murdered MP, Jo Cox, who died while trying to serve the people and making this country a better place. I found it reassuring, not just because of the many who will serve and sacrifice for what is best but that also includes our politicians. A couple of times in the past week I have attended a vigil for Jo here in Southend, with the theme: “Love not hate”. If there is a message going forward, may this be it.