So the verdict is out, it's Brexit after all
What did the European referendum look like to a visitor travelling through? Mari Marcel Thekaekara from Nilgiri hills, in the southeast Indian state of Tamil Nadu, offers her perspective.
While in Britain for a few weeks I was bombarded by Brexit and Remain arguments. As a visitor, I felt uninformed and incompetent and pretty unable to understand the issues with sufficient clarity. I was reading the Guardian, Independent, Telegraph and Times, to try and get an idea of the arguments the media were spelling out everyday. And I picked up the Sun, the Mail and Mirror where they lay discarded on buses or on the Tube. But I was almost as confused as when I started. ‘Lies, damn lies,’ I overheard someone say on a bus into Hackney, North London. 'The media are as bad as the politicians, just blathering on and on. What business do they have to give us their opinions and leave out the facts. We are being lied to by the whole pack – politicians and press.’ Strong stuff no doubt. But it seems that everywhere I went, there were echoes of this sentiment, stated with varying degrees of anger, resentment or politeness.
Leeds, Leicester, Lewisham and Manchester voted Remain, though they have a large immigrant population. So did most of London. If, as the pundits predicted, immigration was the biggest issue, they should have shouted 'Leave' as stridently as possible. But they didn’t. So I think, the issues went beyond xenophobia. Sitting in the Tube I was shocked at how little English was being spoken around me. I was visiting London after almost five years. I hardly ever heard the familiar Cockney I had grown to expect over the last 40 years of visiting Hackney. I heard several east European languages, together with Russian, Chinese, Bengali and different African languages. If it was so disconcerting for me, what about locals? I wondered. Yet Hackney voted an overwhelming 78.5 per cent Remain and 21.5 per cent Leave. Haringey's 25,855 votes said Leave, 24.4 per cent and Remain 75.6 per cent or 79,991 votes. So it’s been proved beyond doubt that Londoners who have the largest immigration population in Britain voted to Remain. That puts the anti-immigration and xenophobia argument to bed once and for all. R.I.P.
In the last five years Britain has been affected by slashes and budget cuts in education, housing, health and welfare. People are against a globalization which forms yet another club of the rich. Examine EU money carefully and dissect those budgets to see how many go to the fat cat bureaucrats and EU politicians, their fancy allowances and long lunches. And how much filters down to where it’s most needed. Chris Proctor Trade unionist and journalist, as well informed as any editor I know, said last week, 'People don’t want another club of the rich. They are fed up with the EU because it’s just a new capitalists' club.'
The Brexit folks ranted and raved, and exploited peoples' worst fears, no doubt, talking about 'getting our country back'. But the Remain people, the middle classes, didn’t get out and campaign clearly enough. Did not point out to the people what they would lose if they Brexited. As I watched our friends Philip and Brigitte Hilton heatedly discussing the campaign, going out all day handing out leaflets and trying to persuade people on the streets of their little town and around Peterborough, to vote Remain, I wished them luck. With all my heart.
Most of my friends in Britain are devastated by the news this morning.
Another Christopher, quoted Author E. B. White 'Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.'
Seems like that’s what we must do. After all, it’s the only thing we can do now.
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