On Friday we woke up in a new country. People across the cities, counties and regions of the United Kingdom had voted in favour of leaving the European Union.
Like many people, I was quite surprised by the news. I knew it would be close, but I had thought that, when it came down to it, most people would decide that leaving the Union was simply too much of a risk – a leap into the unknown which, with the economy barely recovered from the last recession, people would decide wasn’t worth it.
In this regard, the result was a pleasant surprise. It shows that we as citizens want to have more control over our own futures, and think we should be trusted with it. With world leaders and experts from around the globe telling us it was a bad idea, we said: “Thanks for the advice, but we think we’re big enough to stand on our own two feet.”
As you know, at ubu we believe in empowerment. We support people to make decisions about their own lives, and are there if they need some encouragement or direction. So in many ways, from our perspective the vote is a good thing: it’s the brave choice of a nation full of confidence. Whether it is the right choice remains to be seen, and that’s why the biggest question now is: “What next?!”
With David Cameron stepping down on Friday morning, the result has already cost one party leader their job. Jeremy Corbyn has come under a huge amount of pressure, with almost 80% of his MPs saying they had lost confidence in him. A Labour leadership election, followed by a General Election in the autumn, is looking increasingly likely. With the Referendum not even a week over, personally the idea of another election exhausts me. And I don’t think I’m the only one!
In terms of what’s next for Britain and Europe: right now, it’s really difficult to say. David Cameron has said it will be up to his successor to decide on the process for exiting, and so it will be up to them to decide what our future relationship with the EU will look like.
The bigger question, I guess, is what this vote could mean for us as a country: will we be able to move on as a united nation – one which has such huge challenges to face – when clearly we’re divided on such a major issue? The vote was won by such a narrow margin: 52% wanted out, 48% wanted to stay in. We’ve almost split down the middle: are we now just going to have half the country blaming the other for anything that might come as a result of us voting to leave? I really hope not.
It’s in ubu’s ethos that by working together we can achieve extraordinary things. We should take the vote to leave the EU as a sign of faith in our own abilities and a reminder to celebrate in each other’s strengths.
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