Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Hey Britain - it's not us, it's you

UKIP Party leader Nigel Farage was the moving force behind the Brexit campaign. Photo / AP
UKIP Party leader Nigel Farage was the moving force behind the Brexit campaign. Photo / AP

If this was a romcom, Britain would be the hunky guy all the girls adore. New Zealand would be the clingy ex-girlfriend who always drunk-dials at 3am.

And Brexit would be the nadir, when New Zealand's friends finally stage an intervention and say it's time to get over him.

Once upon a time, New Zealand was one of Britain's girls. We knew he had other girls - I'm looking at you, Australia, South Africa and Canada - but we ignored the fact that we were all sharing him, because he was just so hunky.

He made sure life was good for us. Britain took everything we could export, occasionally sent us a royal to fawn over and allowed us to freely migrate back to the Mother Country because we looked and sounded exactly like Britons anyway.

Then 1973 happened. This is the epic break-up scene. Blame it on the past decade of free love, drugs, or money, but Britain left us.

He took up with more exotic girls called the European Economic Community, then the European Union.

We tried to move on. We started seeing Australia, we even took China home, but we always knew Britain was our true love.

We waited 43 years. Then Brexit happened. He finally started getting tired of those exotic girls like we knew he would. They fought in public. We got all dolled up. This was our way back in.

I'll be honest. Writing that analogy probably made me cringe as much as you cringed reading it, but what makes me cringe more than anything is the fact that we did behave like that.

UK newspapers reported we were watching the Brexit debate from over here in the hope Britain leaving the EU would give us a chance to renew our links. Worse, Winston Peters said Brexit was a chance to "heal a rift" with the Commonwealth, as ifwe were still hurting over 1973.

Commentators suggested ways to win Britain's affection. We could be the first country to sign a free trade deal after the split. That way, someone gives Britain a big thumbs-up for destroying the EU and we show how loyal we've been.

Newsflash, New Zealand. The doctor's prescribing you a book. It's called He's Just Not That into You. The rift will not heal. Britain doesn't want you to pretend you're a Little Briton and, for the love of everything good, you don't want sloppy seconds.

I'm disappointed this is how we viewed Brexit. Can't we see the days of being Better Britons are over? Our news anchors don't talk in faux BBC accents, we don't call it the Mother Country, we don't look like Britain any more.

The UK keeps trying to tell us it's over. It has clamped down on New Zealand immigration. It feels like every year it makes it harder for young Kiwis to live and work in London on their OEs.

According to my newly arrived Welsh colleague, they don't talk about us nearly as much as we talk about them.

Anyway, Britain was bad to us. He always made us feel small, calling us "colonial" and "sheep shaggers".

Things will turn around. It'll be Britain calling us at 3amin a slurred, stumbly and very unsexy state. Britain will be wanting to come here, and we might not want him.

There's a lot to escape in the UK. An MP has been murdered, it feels to them like their economy is tanking, and immigrants are waiting at the borders to swarm the country.

According to last month's arrivals statistics, the 3900 immigrants from the UK in May made up the fourth-largest group to arrive. As in any good movie, one day soon, Britain will want us more than we want him. If this was a romcom, New Zealand, this is your intervention.

- Herald on Sunday

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Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a thirty-something living between Auckland and Wellington. She has more than a decade's experience hosting and reporting on TV and radio. Heather's worked in Parliament's Press Gallery, covered the 2012 London Olympic Games, and reported from as far afield as Antarctica.

Read more by Heather du Plessis-Allan

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