Sunday, 26 June 2016

Brexit and the European Dream

Pic of blackboard, hand with chalk with heading showing cogs inside and words 'New Life Loading...'

Friday came as a shock to me as many in the UK. On Thursday night, I thought ‘Bremain’ had narrowly won the EU Referendum. There was a niggling feeling in my gut. I woke up on Friday morning to the profound shock of Brexit. No, it’s more than that. My heart is torn in two.

Children of Brexit Divorce
As a linguist, I have one foot in Britain and the other in Europe. I belong to both. I understand both. I agree and disagree with both on different issues. Unfortunately, I have experienced two very bitter divorces; that of my parents and my own. It is always the children who suffer most in a divorce. So, I would like to appeal on behalf of the children of the UK and Europe.

It is never a good idea to back people into a corner. A ‘take it or leave it’ approach is like red rag to a bull. As a pro-European, even my instant reaction to some rhetoric has been “I’ll leave it, thanks”.

It is easy for the side that does not budge to blame the other side for all repercussions. European leaders knew that our Prime Minister was in a difficult situation. I wonder if they would have conceded more if they could have foreseen the fallout?

The trouble with lawyers is that they will not deal with ‘what ifs’. They will only advise after the event.

Generation gap
I woke up on Friday morning to a map of the UK that looked like a civil war. Britain divided between regions and generations.

Angela Merkel said that she does not want Brexit to be ‘nasty’. The European Union should note that the UK’s young people voted to remain in Europe. A nasty divorce will alienate them.

My 19-year-old son was disappointed. He went to Denmark last week. He was planning to go to Berlin, Stockholm and Barcelona this summer. It’s great to travel while young. It broadens the mind. My elder son is part of a generation that is open to Europe. He will remain so if the ‘divorce’ is handled with equanimity and an eye to future ‘rapprochement’. Will Europe restrict his travelling in future?

My 16-year-old son (who did not have a right to vote) was even more scathing about the election result. It is wrong to assume that his age group is not politically aware. The younger generation get their information from different sources to their parents and grandparents.

Founders’ dream
We are all different. After the Referendum results the EU’s founder members went into a huddle. Come again? Younger family members hate being excluded from discussions in a divorce. It can sow the seeds of future issues - often without foundation.

The founder members had a dream. I understand that they feel that Britain has slapped them in the face and spat on their dream. It hurts.

When a family grows in size you have to amend your dreams. That doesn’t mean that you can’t develop new dreams. A new reality can turn out better than your original dream - if only you give it a chance…

A new dream
The European dream grew out of the chaos of two world wars. Today’s political chaos is an opportunity to create a new European dream for generations to come.