Editorial: Britain sadly driven by fear

By Katie Shevlin

6 comments
A campaigner wearing a Vote Leave t-shirt and holding a British Union Flag. Photo / Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg
A campaigner wearing a Vote Leave t-shirt and holding a British Union Flag. Photo / Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

The words reverberated through me as I read the headline on Friday afternoon: "Britain votes to Leave the EU". Stunned, I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed to see the reaction of my friends back home. They were outraged.

Like them, and so many others, I am incredibly disappointed in the outcome of the referendum. Not even taking into account the impact of this decision on the British economy, Sterling, jobs, passports, travel, etc, no, all of that aside, the reason I am most disappointed is because it clearly indicates many Britons' state of mind.

The decision to leave the EU is a sad reflection of a society that has become increasingly shrouded in fear. One that responds more to hatred than to acceptance. Politicians targeted people's uneasiness of "the other", which is only to be expected of politicians, but the depressing thing is it worked. Propaganda and prejudice has won and now Britain will isolate itself from the most successful union of nations in history. To withdraw, close the borders, and shut itself off.

We had the opportunity to define our identity as a modern, multicultural society, but instead chose to reject this notion, to turn inwards.

And it seems that for many it wasn't even a conscious decision. Like the world's worst hangover, millions of Britons woke on Friday and collectively asked "What have we done?" Many leave voters have expressed regret at their choice.

Ironically, those that have to live with the decision the longest are the ones that wanted to remain, with 75 per cent of 18-25 year olds voting to stay in. It speaks volumes about the attitude of young people, advocating inclusivity and strength in unity, and this brings me hope. But it is a real shame that the future of young British citizens has been decided by people much older than them, most likely out of some misguided sense of national pride or hazy nostalgia for the pre-EU era. To make Great Britain "great" again.

I believe Brexit is a huge step back, but time will tell. For now, this much I know: Britain has lost its EU membership, lost its Prime Minister, but, saddest of all, has lost its way.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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