So question (since I am seeing it everywhere and I know you live in the UK), what exactly is the EUReferendum and how do you feel about it?
First off apologies if I ramble, I’m not always coherent in writing my thoughts without hours of drafting lmao and I’m at work lurking Tumblr on the sly o/
Also I’m no political expert so this is entirely opinion :)
I have to go into the history of the EU to explain how we got to where we are and this could get quite boring. I’ll try and break it up with semi-relevant gifs.
Also apologies that this will be very England-centric. This is not deliberate, I just can’t speak for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland who all have a different manner of shit going on.
WARNING THIS IS A LOOOOOONG POST.
Europe, as you know, is made up of a shitload of countries. Because of our long history of kicking the shit out of each other and frankly being unfriendly tribal bastards most of Europe is broken down into rather small countries - we’ll come back to this later as this is sort of important.
After WW2 the European Union (EU) was created to encourage nations within the European continent to work together and stop fighting. As you’ve probably noticed, European nations fought a lot in the past :D
The original point of the EU was to encourage decent trade/customs/market, share intelligence etc and basically work together. It was also a sort of ‘let’s huddle together whilst the USA and Russia kick the shit out of each other, if we band together we can look a bit big and scary and they might leave us alone’.
Naturally, the UK didn’t sign up at first because lol Empire. For the record when we did eventually try to join France blocked us like 3 times lmao.
SO ANYWAY. Time goes on and the EU is working pretty fairly. But it’s no easy task. You’re aiming for equality amongst dozens of nations with very different levels of economical strength, laws and culture. How can you balance a nation like the UK with for example a Baltic state fresh out of the Soviet bloc?
Trade was one of the answers. A poor nation is struggling but they have a hell of a lot of coal, so the EU lowers customs/taxes on their coal exports and encourages other nations to import it. Good for that struggling nation, bad for the local industries of other nations who have now been undercut. People lost jobs, towns and villages lost their livelihoods, governments sat back and did little to nothing. Combine that with cheap resources like coal and steel from China and Russia, old industries died out and little was done to replace livelihoods for people with basic skills and education.
It also became cheaper to set up your businesses abroad, like factories in Poland or call centres in India. Why pay a Brit the minimum wage when you can pay a foreigner half as much for twice as many shifts? (and ignore all the health and safety rules, what’s the worst that could happen…)
BTW To be a member of the EU you have to pay a membership. That fee is reflective of your nation’s size/economy of course. Smaller and poorer nations pay less than the likes of the UK and Germany for example.
That money is put into a sort of pot and then dished out where its needed across the EU. Farming subsidies, a new bridge in Greece, new roads in Spain, an art project in England. Its usage varied. My region - the North East of England - receives a hell of a lot of funding from the EU (because for some reason which I’m sure is totally non political, our own government doesn’t give us much, but that’s another story…)
Gradually, for the sake of equality, the EU with a panel of politicians from various countries began implementing laws that would apply to all member states. Various health and safety stuff, immigration regulations, right to health care outside your own country, free travel, human rights stuff (like allowing prisoners to vote, boy was that unpopular in the UK!) etc.
When the global recession hit, the UK suffered. Maybe not as much as the likes of Greece etc, but it hurt the poorest of our country like recessions tend to do.
People in the UK were angry. Unemployment was high, businesses were closing down left, right and centre, emergency services were watered down, vital resources and charities were haemorrhaging money and losing quality of service… but we were still paying our weekly fee to the EU.
In return, the EU rules allowed a large influx of Europeans to come into the UK as they pleased looking for work. If you think the UK had suffered during the recession imagine how Eastern Europe had fared! The sudden increase of working class/labour bodies (who were willing to work longer and for less pay than the Brits) meant competition for even a part time waitress job was fierce.
Now surely at this point, the government should invest money and create jobs!
But they didn’t :^) Our government brought in harsh budget cuts (not affecting their rich friends of course though) - and made receiving dole money (welfare to you US lot) very difficult. 5 minutes late to your Job Centre appointment ‘cos you can’t afford a car or public transport? Lol Enjoy your 6 weeks of no welfare penalty. Disabled? Prove it. If you can blink you can work, hand over your benefits and find a damn job.
At this point the working class in the UK is pushed to breaking point. But worry not! The Far Right is here to tell you whose fault it is!
Immigrants! Immigrants are to blame! It’s all their fault and they’re doing it deliberately because they hate Britain hurr durr durr.
(Man it took a lot of resolve to include that pic of Nigel Farage, he makes my skin crawl. Like a lizard in human skin. I bet he has a zip on the back of his neck.)
This is his most recent and highly controversial poster - German history enthusiasts might recall a similar poster during the 30′s :^)
Google ‘Farage immigration poster’ for more varieties of hateful propaganda.
Keep in mind poverty and lack of education go hand in hand. I know the stereotype of Britain is posh people with monocles saying “Good heavens Jeeves look at the stock market jolly good!” - but like everywhere in the world there are a lot of people in the UK living hand to mouth just trying to get by.
So, from the point of view of the UK’s most destitute, here’s what they see:
- Immigrants taking jobs Brits need/want
- Immigrants putting strain on NHS services
- Immigrants causing schools to be overcrowded
- Immigrants able to enter the UK without thorough background checks
- Refugees from Africa and Middle East able to freely cross Europe into UK without any money/background checks etc.
- Immigrants bringing Islam with them
- Immigrants not adapting to UK laws and culture, indulging in criminal activity
- Immigrants able to claim housing and benefits - and bumped up the queue ahead of Brits
- Immigrants sending money to families abroad and not contributing to UK economy
Are all of the above true? In some cases yes. Is it the fault of all immigrants? No. The UK has needed investment in its emergency services for years, its needed more schools and hospitals for years. Our population was growing any way and is also growing older.
There’s also the belief that the UK has no sovereignty because the EU ‘makes all the laws in Brussels by unelected leaders’. idk to what extent that is true, but the very idea pissed a lot of people off.
So the Far Right gains popularity. They say if we kick all the foreigners out it will solve all the UK’s problems. They say we can only ‘control our borders’ if we leave the EU - which would also mean the money we pay to the EU can be spent on other things, like the NHS! That’s a promise!*
Our right wing Conservative government got into power on the promise that they’d hold a referendum on the UK’s EU membership. After getting into power twice, they now p much had to abide by that promise or lose face/confidence.
But they didn’t actually expect people to vote Leave.
I don’t believe every Leave voter is racist, but I think all racists probably voted Leave. I think a lot of people fed up with their circumstances voted Leave. I think many people just wanted to stick two fingers up at the government and voted Leave. Many older people who ‘remember what Britain was like before the EU’ (’cos yeah, it was so great…) voted Leave.
Young people like myself enjoy the ability to travel freely in Europe, the ability to apply for a job anywhere in Europe with ease, the guarantee of our human rights, and we were fearful of the economic repercussions - our generation has already suffered under government cuts. We couldn’t risk the economy crashing, businesses relocating offices and jobs out of the UK etc.
We also didn’t like the idea of our basic rights and services at the mercy of a government notorious for being cold and uncaring.
So we rallied to vote Remain. Experts across all manners of fields and the highly educated joined us.
But it wasn’t enough. Fear and hatred won in my opinion.
Now our Prime Minister, having backed the Remain side, has resigned. There is no-one decent to replace him. The pound has plummeted. Racist attacks have increased dramatically over the weekend on anyone who isn’t white with a British-sounding name/accent. (seriously people have even started shit with Welsh people, mistaking them for foreigners).
Oh and this promise?
“We never actually said that.”
The Leave party are suddenly backtracking on all their promises. And have failed to offer any sort of plan for the future other than “Let’s wing it, it’ll work out.”
If it doesn’t work out, well many of the older population voted Leave, they don’t give a shit, they got their pensions secured decades ago, they’ll be dead before anything impacts them.
Scotland and Northern Ireland strongly voted remain. They feel even more separate from the UK than they already did. Scotland needs the EU, it doesn’t want to leave. They will try to leave the UK before they leave the EU.
I feel like the UK is a creaky ship in a storm and all the crew have jumped overboard and left us. Rather than our government admitting its faults (they were quite happy to pass buck/blame to the EU whenever people complained), or trying to work with the EU to change things, we’ve decided to cut our noses off to spite our faces.
But hey, who cares if we’re all poor and jobless and everyone hates us, as long as we’re all white - right? :^)