"I'm going to pick up my binoculars and walk out the front door - I may be some time"

I tweeted that at 09.00hrs, a few hours after coming to terms with the fact that this country had decided to vote to leave the EU. I can honestly say that I have never been so angry, confused and felt so impotent over a political decision. It was a referendum that did not need to happen, but did so because of petty party political infighting.

I took myself off to Denbigh's Hillside, close to Dorking, to clear my head. I sat down and started to put all of what had happened into some sort of order.

The bare facts are that 51.9% of those who voted opted to Leave, and 48.1% opted to Remain. For such a far reaching decision, it seems almost too narrow a margin to allow any progress to continue. This isn't just a case of the UK coming out of the EU. It has opened up massive chasms between the generations; a deeper fracturing of a fragile United Kingdom; a widening class divide; Northern Ireland and Gibraltar now facing up to being on closed borders; enormous worry for UK passport holders who are living (or working) in the EU (and the same applying to non-UK EU nationals living or working in the UK); cuts to EU funding of science and the arts; removal of environmental protections; possible erosion of workers rights.

The political landscape across Europe might not be all that smooth and easy at the moment, but us leaving the EU does no good at all to the efforts to steady it. There are military threats on its edge that a united Europe would be better placed to keep at bay. The humanitarian crises that surround our region need compassion applied on a broad front, and do not need a major player in the EU family (which we are) walking the other way, pretending not to be a part of it. We will now have an unelected PM. We will now have the most uninspiring set of politicians entrusted to try to sort this mess out. It is a time for leaders, not negligent pupils who have been caught out having not swotted up for their exams.

The youth of this country have been let down by the (largely) comfortably-off over 50s. The statistics say it all: 18-24 year olds voted 75% Remain, 25-49 year olds voted 56% Remain; 50-64 year olds voted 44% Remain and the over 65s voted 39% Remain. So the generation that enjoyed years of full employment, disposable income, golden pensions, affordable home ownership and the chance of early retirement have bestowed upon the youngsters (who have none of the benefits above) even more uncertainties. Thanks Mum, thanks Dad, thanks Nan and thanks Grandad. And why did they decide to play a highly risky game of chance with a future in which they will mostly not be alive to see the consequences of their actions? Just so they could stick two fingers up at Brussels? So that they can have wonky carrots back in the market place? Because of the immigrants? The truth is, we are all, back in time, immigrants. So this game of Russian roulette has been played, with little care (or, it seems, little planning) in the unlikely event that a vote for 'Leave' might actually be carried. It won't happen after all.... will it? I have heard more than one person say that they voted 'Leave' as a protest vote, but didn't think that it would all come to this. Well it has. For every boorish, pub-drunk-like clenched fist of triumph, there are many worried, confused and disenfranchised people, who didn't ask for this. And many that did ask for it, I wouldn't mind betting, are wishing that they didn't.

My troubled mind was soothed by a modest emergence of Marbled Whites. They seemed oblivious to the unrest going on across Europe, as too were the Bee, Pyramidal and Chalk Fragrant Orchids. In fact, I had found a haven away from real life, so was all the angst elsewhere nothing but a bad dream?

Our next PM might well be Boris Johnson, the same man that wants to build London's third airport on the Thames estuary. He won't need to worry about the environmental impact, because without the EU there will be no-one around to stop him. He may well preside over Great Britain turning into Little England. A good friend of mine - 69 years old and a Remain voter - has been in tears this afternoon. He wants to apologise for what his contemporaries have forced upon the younger generations who are, after all, the ones that will have to deal with all the fall-out of this. Maybe it is the beginning of the dying of the old political orders. Youth needs to invent their own and put right this xenophobic, small-minded mess that we have witnessed today.

I need another beer...

I will leave you with the image above. I came across a Second World war pill box on my walk, and thought it apt for today - looking out across the scarp towards the south coast, waiting and watching for the threat of invasion...


laurence.d said…
Thanks Steve,for putting into words exactly how I feel about this tragedy too .
laurence.d said…
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It is a scandal. I cannot contemplate the opportunities my children will no longer have. Well put.
Ploddingbirder said…
Steve, I am ashamed of my generation who have taken the benefits of an admittedly imperfect EU, yet vote to take it all away from our children and grandchildren!
Derek Faulkner said…
Well this well off 69 year old is still certain that by voting Leave that he has done the right thing. Having watched that spineless git Cameron jack in straight after the Referendum, because he didn't want to do the hard work that he was voted in to do by the British public, I'm even more glad that I did it. There's gonna be a lot like that now, seeing their nice comfortable gravy train life in the EU come to an end and therefore leaving the rest of us behind while they swan off somewhere else to make their easy money. I'm not sure where the EU came into the easy life that you allege that I had to get to 69 but I do recall working my butt off for 40+ years, never being unemployed, never taking a penny in state handouts, (unlike many work-shy teenagers these days), and paying a mortgage interest rate of 15% in the early 90's. Germany and France led the EU and were almost governing this country and I'm glad to be shot of them.
laurence.d said…
That,s the sentiments of the past,,extreme bitterness with no good reason, luckily the younger forward looking generation will be rid of that through natural wastage,I only hope something can be salvaged for them ,the ones who don,t have wealthy parents to set them up in life.
laurence.d said…
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Unknown said…
Some might say we got our country back but I do not feel like it is my country anymore.

John said…
A great Kipling poem (via the Guardian today) that seems rather apt for the Brexit leaders:

The Dead Statesman

I could not dig; I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?
Gill Osborne said…
Well said Derek!
DorsetDipper said…
I was also angry at the Referendum Steve but from a different perspective. It is a clear political failure to put our relations with the EU as a binary choice to the people. On the one hand voting to leave gives us all the problems we currently see, but staying gives the green-light to the full EU superstate and the complete loss of democracy and disastrous economic policies that we have seen unfold for many countries. Given that choice there was only place to put my cross for me and that was to leave.

Apparently the young are upset by this, so I will through these comments formally apologise to the young people of Britain for depriving them of the living standards, job opportunities, and democratic rights currently enjoyed by young people in Greece, Spain, Italy, France ...
Steve Gale said…
Thank you for all of your comments
Paul Trodd said…
Hi Steve, I know I`m a bit late to the party, but I`d just like to reiterate you`ve got it spot on. We`ve been let down badly by the lies spun on both sides of the debate, particularly by the politicians who are now infighting like a pack of rats because they have no Plan B in place. It sickens me to see the increase in Union flags fluttering from flag poles down here since the Brexit vote as the Little Englanders stick two metaphorical fingers up to Europe. Goodness only knows what the future holds for our young uns. All the best, Paul
Unknown said…
Dear Steve (and other commentators),
You have written many wonderful posts in this blog, but for me, this is the most poignant. The EU has many faults and there are genuine issues that the mainstream political parties seem bent on ignoring. However, my research at Sussex University into Alzheimer's disease is funded by a £1M grant from the EU (the UK benefits disproportionately from EU research funding - getting out far more than it puts in). The turtle doves, yellowhammers, yellow wagtails, corn buntings, etc. that breed in my corner of Sussex would not be there without the agri-environment EU schemes given to farmers. Your post summarises some of the many other benefits we have enjoyed from being an EU member. And what do we gain by leaving? Not prosperity, not safety, not "control of our borders", not extra funding for the NHS. The only immediate effect I've noticed is an increase in racism.
Thanks for an excellent blog.
Kind regards, Chris Bird
Steve Gale said…
Paul and Chris. Thank you for your contributions.
Ric said…
Lets have an update on what has actually happened since this vote.
In the cold light of day, some of the reactions were down right embarrassing.
Hasn't exactly resulted in the end of the world.
As for the opportunities lost to their children. I didn't see any protests when the idea of charging their children for their university courses was made a reality.
The agricultural environment EU hand outs for farmers weren't required before we joined the then Common market. It was because of the EU that farmland species have taken such a hit in the first place.

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