The Brexit Encounter – by an EU Citizen in London

Our son, Thomas, attending LSE in London, shares his Brexit experience.

Flooded London

On the night of the referendum, I found myself at a ‘Brexit Results Night’ event in the common room of my postgraduate student accommodation. As we were watching the votes from various counties of the UK trickle in, beers in our hands, there were casual debates over what would happen if the country actually decided to leave the European Union. Despite some apprehensive glances at the numbers, none of us took the possibility of this outcome seriously. I only managed to stay awake until about 1am to follow the live TV coverage, though I know many who were up the whole night. I went to bed thinking that the whole thing was nothing but a political spectacle; overblown and unlikely to succeed anyways.

As I presume many others did, the first thing I did when waking up was to google the result of the referendum. To my shock and dismay, the British public had voted (with a 52% majority) in favour of Brexit. David Cameron had given an emotional speech announcing his resignation. Motions of no confidence had been passed by Labour MPs with the aim of removing Jeremy Corbyn from its leadership. Scotland had agreed to legislate for a second independence referendum. Various European politicians had taken Brexit as a cue for movements towards their own country leaving the EU.

A large part of my day was then filled with browsing Facebook and reading posts from (university-aged) friends, who, unsurprisingly, were aghast and absolutely crestfallen at the decision that had been made. My news feed was rife with accusations of racism, xenophobia, and foolishness, with only few admitting defeat. Above all, there was a seething resentment towards the older population who had voted overwhelmingly in favour of leaving; a palpable sense of betrayal by a generation who appeared ignorant towards a globalising world, and uncaring of the younger generation’s employment prospects. Nothing had whipped up social media into a frenzy quite as much as this had. The collective outrage and disappointment left me reeling.

On the Saturday following the referendum, I was quietly working near an open window on the top floor of my university’s library. Suddenly, I heard a deafening roar booming through the skies. Looking outside, I saw a squad of jets flying in formation and releasing red, blue, and white smoke into the sky. ‘The colours of the Union Jack, They must be celebrating their independence!’, I said to my neighbour. ‘I hate this country’, she replied.

Thanks for your contribution, Thomas.

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