Brexit day is here

“We Will Always Love You and We Will Never Be Far”: Brexit Day Arrives in a Divided Nation

Friday 31st January 2020 at 11.00pm, Britain will officially leave the European Union and begin the dissolution of its membership within the EU.

It’s a battle that has been going on for over three years, seeing three different Conservative Prime Ministers and a cultural divide that has highlighted deep divisions in British society.

One topic has been at the gruesome heart of Brexit: immigration.

Immigration, according to some factions in the Leave campaign is “out of control”. Brexiteers perceive families and valuable workers migrating to the UK as unwanted and coming in at unprecedented numbers. Remainers have generally opposed this idea, showcasing the victories the UK has been able to win because of immigration from the rebuilding of the country thanks to the Windrush generation aiding the NHS to our migrant doctors, nurses, health workers and administrative support workers.

Brexit day is here
A gloomy cloud looms over Remainers today as the UK formally leaves the European Union. [Image: EPA/Andy Rain, Al Dia News]

Data shows us time and time again that the referendum tensions and the eventual result of leave bolstered xenophobes and racists across the country. EU citizens in the UK reported an increase in discrimination during the referendum, double the figures from 2010-2012.

Until the Government truly listen to the 16 million voices of those who voted remain, and even those who abstained or came to disagree with leaving the EU despite voting Leave, how can there be real unity?

Mariña Fernández-Reino, a researcher at the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said of the findings: “political rhetoric and media debate can shape people’s attitudes towards a certain group or topic.”

The upcoming immigration restrictions have been reported as disastrous across sectors, from social care which is expected to lose up to 3% of its workforce when it is already understaffed to hospitality and food processing sectors.

High emotions in European parliament
As Nigel Farage and his fellow Brexiteers waved the British flag in MEPs faces, emotions ran high for others who are sad to see the UK leave. [Image: Reuters].

Free movement will end after the purgatory period on January 1 2021. 

Figures such as Nigel Farage, ex-MEP and eight times failed MP candidate, will be celebrating Britain’s exit. However, all Friday 31 represents right now is a period of waiting.

The Institute for Government, in its report on what comes next for the UK, said: “The practical realities of Brexit will not be felt on 1 February 2020. The transition is largely a standstill agreement, preserving the status quo.”

Boris Johnson has pleaded with Remainers and those critical of Brexit to “come together” without acknowledging valid criticism, nor providing options for those who aren’t sold by this fantasy post-Brexit utopia.

For so many of us, the inward and isolated view Britain wishes to take opposes our diverse realities.

MEPs sing us goodbye
The heart-wrenching moment MEPs linked hands on the last day of the UK’s presence in European Parliament. [Image: The Metro].

Until the Government truly listen to the 16 million voices of those who voted remain, and even those who abstained or came to disagree with leaving the EU despite voting Leave, how can there be real unity? Scotland is furious at the constant neglect it faces from Westminster, young Brits are heartbroken at losing their European freedoms and rights and the Government seems unphased by the reality of the division it has created.

For so many of us, the inward and isolated view Britain wishes to take opposes our diverse realities.

Leave, if represented by the Brexit Party MEPs, is a campaign that looks to the past. Farage and colleagues waved Union Jack flags during their final attendance in European Parliament, watched by European politicians who looked embarrassed for them and slightly bewildered. In contrast, MEPs linked hands and sang the traditional Scottish song of Auld Lang Syne.

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage told the European Union “we hate you” and accused the EU of “bullying” the UK. [John Thy/AFP/Getty Images, Yahoo].

Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian Prime Minister and Belgian MEP said: “We’re sad to see a country leaving that twice liberated us, twice has given its blood to liberate Europe.”

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen quoted British author George Eliot’s words: “Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depth of love”, adding “we will always love you and we will never be far. Long live Europe.”

As some talk about the almost inevitable rejoining of the EU, there is hope for the future, so long as we continue to fight for it.

Written by
Xan Youles
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