Our stolen European Identity
Tonight heralds another sad moment, similar to the start of the year. In no way is the new relationship between the UK and the EU what I want for myself, those I know and love, or the entire UK. This entire situation is a historic aberration, which shows the UK off at its worst.
Several years ago, my good friend, Bryan Manley-Greenhit the nail on the head when he said that the vote to leave the EU in 2016 felt like a loss akin to losing a family member and it’s still true. You don’t have to agree with me (hell, you can even mock me), but you have to understand how deeply I feel about this.
What have we lost?
I grieve for the loss of our freedom of movement, the loss of Erasmus, the loss of British influence in Europe, the erection of trade barriers and everything that comes with it. I grieve for what the new deal will do to jobs, prices, and people’s businesses and lives. I grieve for the intellectual poverty of our politicians and the terrible way certain sections of the media have twisted words and concepts, lying for over 30 years, which has put the UK in a position where we are all poorer in every sense of the word.
I grieve for the truckers abandoned in Kent last week; I grieve for British citizens who made their lives in the EU only to have their home government slam the door in their face; I grieve for EU-27 citizens who have made their lives here and are being treated like guinea pigs. Above all, I grieve for the destruction of opportunity. I, like many others no doubt, took it for granted that Britain would continue to be part of the European Union and didn’t travel as much as I could have done, should have done and now it’s made much more difficult to do so. I also feel very sorry for the generation after me who will grow up without the same rights, privileges and opportunities- it seems as if they’ve been stolen from us all.
The grieving will continue
I formed a lot of my views about politics, life in general, around the start of the 2010s, as I properly engaged, and stepped away from the sidelines. Over the last few years, I feel like the Conservative Party and travellers have stamped all over my beliefs about how the UK should be and behave in European and international affairs. Surely, there has to be an end to it?
Tonight, I grieve, but the New Year does bring some opportunity. The immediate priority is to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic is firmly batted down so that we can gradually return to something like normality. This shouldn’t stop us, though, from challenging our pathetic government and its lacklustre response and terrible communication in regard to every challenge this country faces. I feel more than ever that we are coming up to a reckoning. I can’t put my finger on what that event would be (Scottish independence? Elizabeth II dying?), but people are getting angrier. We need to turn things around, and fast.
Is there still hope?
Last night, I was watching re-runs from the final season of The Big Bang Theory- in the first episode, Sheldon and his wife, Amy, are informed that their theory on asymmetry, which they hope will earn them a Nobel Prize, has already been critiqued as not valid by a paper. This sends Sheldon and Amy into a depressive state. In the next episode, however, to try to get himself out of a downward spiral, Sheldon decides to watch a tape of himself at a young age giving a motivational speech- unfortunately, the tape was recorded over by an American football game, and his late father’s half-time team talk. Even though the team are being, and did get trashed, Sheldon’s father encourages his players not to give up. Sheldon takes heart and realises that his dreams of a Nobel are not over just yet- Amy then realises that their theory could still apply, depending on how you look at it. In a similar vein, the article by Anand Menon published by the Guardian suggests that not all hope is lost.
Thank you to everybody that’s been involved with EU in Brum this year. It’s been a challenge, to say the least, but above all, we have kept going, and will continue to do so. Like it or not, we’re not going away until the UK has rejoined the European Union, however long it takes. And we will get there. The UK’s future is European.
Tom Pratt is the Chair of EU in Brum, who will continue to campaign to try to get Britain to rejoin the EU. You can find out more about EU in Brum here.
The Featured Image is from Virginia Mayo of AP images.