A few thoughts on the British leave vote

What happened here last night hurts like hell, and I haven’t even begun to process it and absorb it. Here are what thoughts I’ve managed to make coherent so far. Apologies for this not being a music post. I don’t have it in me today, I’m afraid.

When I was a boy, many of best friends were the sons of Italian immigrants. I grew up and went to university in London, where the people I remain closest to were the sons of Japanese and Iranian immigrants. I go to work every day in an office in the centre of London, where I work alongside people from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, the US, South Africa and Australia, and that list is not exhaustive; it’s just what comes to mind immediately without taking a mental inventory. The last band I was in comprised an Irishman, an Italian, a Spaniard with Russian parents and me, the sole Brit. It didn’t even occur to me at the time.

That’s the world I live in. A world where every day I get to work and live alongside people from all over, not just Europe, but the whole world, with a huge variety of experiences, perspectives and knowledge. We come together, we teach each other and we enrich each other’s lives. It’s a real blessing.

Yesterday a majority of British voters rejected that vision. They don’t want to be part of a united Europe, they don’t want freedom of movement, they don’t see the benefit of it.

I understand why so many of my friends feel personally insulted by the leave vote. And there’s nothing I can do for them except lamely apologise and try to reassure them that we’re not all like that. The anger, the sense of betrayal, is pretty raw right now. And I share it, because I love the world I’ve found myself living in and wouldn’t have changed it. And I don’t know what’s going to happen to it now.

I’m already reconciled to the break-up of the UK (and as someone with a Scottish mother and who self-identifies as British rather than English, that’s no small thing); arguably that would have happened anyway in time, for who could blame left-leaning Scots for resenting the imposition of an English right-wing government? Hopefully some kind of amicable settlement will be reached that allows the EU to survive, the terms of our exit won’t destroy the British economy, those who still want to stay here in Britain will stay and something like life as we knew it before will go on.

All I can say to those who don’t want to be part of the world I live in, and who voted against it, is I feel sorry for you.

 

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