Like many of my peers, I woke up yesterday to the EU referendum results and a good stab of shock. My next reaction was that 51.8% of the 72% of registered voters (who then only make up roughly 70% of the population) was definitely not enough for a conclusive vote. 17.4million votes out of a population of 64.1million could surely never be enough?
I almost turned over and went back to sleep (#phdlife) but instead I got up, put the kettle on and checked Facebook.
All of a sudden it was very, very clear that this was probably not the case. Unless you had your head stuck in the proverbial sand yesterday, I'm sure you can imagine the conversation I tuned into. Panic, finger-pointing, uproar. After I suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that the votes should have been weighted according to the years voters would live with the consequences, one Leave voter told me I was being childish, that I was a loser and then (as the conversation progressed to issues such as university funding, instability and the idea that age does not equal knowledge) that I and my friends and family were c**ts. (Ok fine, so one of my friends had posted a Jeremy Kyle meme calling him a twat. But still.)
Luckily, most of my Facebook friends were staunch Remain voters like myself. I spent the rest of the day enveloped in the voices of the 75%. The evening was spent with friends, drinking prosecco and dancing to break-up songs.
Yesterday, David Cameron resigned, the EU basically told us to bugger off asap and the global markets suffered a giant blow. Things suddenly began to look very, very serious. Many Leave voters even started to regret their votes which they had simply seen as a protest vote. If anything, we can at least learn something from the referendum - our votes count.
Amongst this, the hatred and vitriol that had formerly been reserved for politicians and immigrants was suddenly aimed at both sides of the vote. I may not be a politician but I agree with the idea that such division is exactly what got us here in the first place and that blaming an age group, social class or ethnicity for our problems is simply exacerbating the issue. People felt alienated and ignored and grabbed a chance to vote for something different.
Sadly, that something wasn't what the majority of Britain's youth wanted. And now we face the backlash from the international community on a greater scale than the older generations who predominantly voted to Leave.
In particular, I am deeply saddened by the responses I have seen from my European friends on social media, both living here and abroad. They feel rejected. They feel confused. They feel outraged. They feel unwanted and like they no longer belong on this confused little island. Britain may still be in the EU but it is currently a very isolated place.
I have seen many cries for Britain to now be given a bad deal in the negotiations with the EU. We voted for this, we should deal with the consequences, they say.
Now not to stay that this is in any way like the prejudice experienced by minorities but for the first time in my life as a straight, white, lower-middle-class, university-educated female - I feel the injustice of being rejected on the basis of my social group. I have of course experienced sexism on many levels too but I have never experienced what it is like to be such fair game for angry, hurt people. And to have so little to argue back with. I am part of a country that voted to leave the EU. I am part of a country whose decision has affected not just us, but the entire global economy. I am part of a country whose future is now deeply uncertain.
I accept and understand why people are reacting towards the Brits as they are. I am deeply sorry for the message Britain has sent out.
But in attempt to redeem myself and my peers, I want to say this:
17.4million out of 64.1million.
(And then within that 17.4million, not everyone was voting because they're xenophobic and racist.)
The other millions, the young who voted to Remain, the young who were denied a voice - they/we are the ones who will have to live the longest with these consequences. And we are the ones who still desperately want to remain friends with you, Europe.
When I see your calls for us to suffer the consequences of our decision, for our blind stumbling into the abyss to be punished, I feel such a deep sadness. I feel as alienated as you do, not just from my fellow countrymen but also by you with these dismissive and sometimes hate-filled comments. And I desperately want to run to you and to apologise to you and show you that you are wanted and needed and loved.
I tried. We tried. I voted Remain. So did so many of us. Us who have adored learning your languages and studied or worked abroad with you and tried to immerse ourselves in your culture and respected and loved our differences as well as our similarities.
Please don't shut your door to us when we have been so heartbroken to see the international one close. We still love you.
"We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us."
Jo Cox 1974 -2016