If you find this article lacks nuance or understanding, read this instead.
Let's Make Britain Hate Again
On the evening of the 23rd of June, 2016, I read the latest Brexit news. The polls were saying Remain had won. I slept soundly. My country might have its problems, but at least it wasn't suicidal.
Waking up on the morning of the 24th I was aghast to see that Leave had won. The grotesque sight of Nigel Farage's triumphant face was plastered all over the internet.
The implications of Brexit - previously so abstract and vague - finally came into focus.
- As a Brit living in Zurich, my employment status is made easy by a bilateral treaty between Switzerland and the EU.
- My dream of moving somewhere with lower fixed costs (probably Germany, maybe Portugal) and living from website money is based on the assumption that I can live anywhere I want.
- Most of my net worth is in pounds.
With a flourish of some pens (yes, pens! See below) my freedom to move, travel, and work anywhere in Europe (27 countries!) will be gone. As soon as it became clear Brexit was happening, the money markets got spooked. The pound dropped ten percent. That's ten percent of my investments, ten percent of my retirement fund. And all that before the stock market opened - the crash that followed wiped God knows how much from my portfolio.
"I feel like I've been burgled," I said to my girlfriend.
"But don't you always whinge about the EU?"
It's true. I'm no fan of Brussels and the EU gravy train. I've gone on my fair share of anti-EU rants in my time. The EU is undemocratic, bloated, and wasteful. There's almost no criticism of it that isn't at least partly true. But even in its current, shitty state, the EU is a force for good in the the world and soon we'll be out, forced to abide by EU regulations if we want to trade with them, but with no power to shape those regulations or make the whole thing better.
So how did it come to this? I'll tell you how:
Brexit - Beyond Parody
Like all failing nations throughout history, Britain has become anti-intellectual. We roar approval when people say 'I don't care about facts, I go with my gut', and sneer at academics. We bellow 'I've never read a book!' and mock economists and statisticians.
Watch this video. Watch with your mouth agape as Michael Gove, one of the leading Leavers, tells a horrified Faisal Islam that the people of Britain have had enough of experts. Full disclosure - I could only watch the first 90 seconds of this filth, and I recommend you don't venture any further.
Gove, when he was in charge of the education of every child in England, allowed three schools to teach Creationism. You're thinking he must be very old to have been Education Secretary in 1860. No, this was in 2012. That's what you get when you let the lunatics take over the asylum - you get kids who think the world is 4,000 years old drawing pictures of Jesus saving dinosaurs from vaccination.
- Conspiracy Theories
Don't even get me started on the pens. What? You want to hear more about the pens? What's WRONG with you?
Britain is a nation of paranoid nutjobs who believe the 'establishment' and MSM (mainstream media) is out to take their rights - and their votes. Yes, we're still talking about the Britain that invented modern democracy where electoral fraud is so blindingly rare as to cause amused bafflement when it occurs.
They (the nutjobs) had worked themselves into a frenzy about how the result they wanted/deserved would be stolen from them. The assassination of pro-Remain MP Jo Cox was seen as sanctioned by Mi5 to garner sympathy for Remain.
Frothing at the mouths, these tin-foil hat wearing simpletons decided that the next step would be for the pro-Remain establishment to - oh, Christ I can't believe I have to type this - they decided that polling stations were being equipped with pencils so that James Bond or Santa Claus could ERASE their votes and re-cast them. (Actually pencils are used because they're cheaper and don't get stolen as often.)
The hashtag #usepens spread on social media like wildfire. I believe it was started by someone mocking the Leavers, but they - shockingly - didn't understand that.
A final comment on conspiracy nuts. One of their go-to phrases is 'stop talking Britain down'. I guess talking Britain down is worse than voting Britain down.
- Don't Talk Britain Down, Obama
I read a serious discussion on Twitter full of people saying that Obama's comments that Britain would go to the 'back of the queue' for a trade deal swayed their vote. The reason? Americans say 'line' not queue, so it was obvious that Obama (the most powerful man on the planet) was told what to say by David Cameron (who would be behind Uganda and the Solomon Islands in Obama's Rolodex if it weren't for the EU).
To restate that - that guy made a decision to plunge the country into chaos because Obama used the word 'queue'.
Off topic - when talking to Americans I use words like 'apartment' and 'sidewalk'. I wonder what my agenda is? WHO IS CONTROLLING ME?
- What was this referendum about, anyway?
Many Brits voted not about their role in the EU but to express their anger with the government, to get rid of Cameron, to send immigants back home, or because they believed various lies.
That's why you get cringe-worthy moronism like this:
And if you value your sanity you will NOT watch this video.
And how many were like this?
I'm pretty sure I know how this woman voted:
15% of voters didn't know that Britain was in the EU.
- Google Trends
70% of British voters participated in this momentous choice. It was certainly not a trivial decision - should you give more weight to the ramifications of the 1969 Vienna convention or reciprocal healthcare arrangements? Regardless of my personal views on such matters, I'm sure everyone did their homework.
Oh, wait. Google Trends data in the hours after the result was announced suggests the Great British Public were not as well informed as you might consider ideal.
There's actually loads of fascinating data coming out - people searching for Irish passports and exit routes out of this nationalist nightmare.
People are so worried about the direction Britain is heading in that they would prefer to live in a glorified monkey hostel.
Not everyone who voted Leave is a racist. Probably only a million or two are card-carrying racists of the type who use words like 'chinky'. Oh - here's a video of our new Leading Politician defending the use of the words 'poofter' and 'chinky'.
If you've ever said 'I'm not racist but...' I know which way you voted.
'It's not about racism. It's about immigration!'
Immigration is a net benefit to Britain. Fact. Of course it brings problems and recent governments haven't done enough to manage immigration and haven't discussed it in a way that resonates with the British people. But what the fuck has that got to do with membership of the EU?
This poor journalist made the mistake of tweeting his dismay at the result.
Suffice to say leaving the EU isn't going to make us any more tolerant to foreigners, non-whites, LGBTs.
Here's a cheery thought to end on:
Now, if you don't mind, I'm off to get an Irish passport, sure I am.