Britons have voted against their political establishment by rejecting the only thing protecting them from it.
A few months ago I boastfully announced on this very site that as a German working in London, I was going to leave the United Kingdom if it left the EU. To be honest, at no point did I think it could really happen.
The polls mostly were fairly promising, the vast majority of the political establishment supported Bremain and – most importantly – it just seemed too irrational to leave a union that you only got the best bits of, without having to face the more negative sides. Now the unthinkable has happened. Britons voted against their political establishment by saying no to the only thing that is protecting them from it.
In the piece I wrote back then I barely focused on what would make this country a place that I would be afraid to live in. Now that David Cameron has resigned and Boris Johnson could be his successor, the image in my head has become a bit clearer.
No matter who ultimately becomes prime minister, the Tories have a clear mandate to turn the country away from Europe. What I see in a few years from now is a country on the way towards a plutocracy, with only the leftovers of the benefit system and the NHS, unaffordable education, as well as widespread mass surveillance and trimmed-down civil rights. The upper crust will get richer and everyone else will get poorer. Do I want to live in a country like that? Not for a single minute.
Somehow Cameron failed to properly communicate that he was asking us to support an organisation that keeps him (and other leaders) from exploiting the working and middle class even further. Mass media printing Nigel Farage’s absurd statements didn’t really help either. And David Beckham saying how much the EU has helped him to become a superstar was a nice touch, but how does that help the average worker who feels threatened by higher house prices, lowering wages and immigration?
All of this just shows how much the establishment – as well as many of the leftwing elite – are out of touch with real life. It also reveals a huge intergenerational conflict. The ones who are most scared by these issues are old people – the ones who voted hugely to leave. They see the country they grew up in changing rapidly, a bit too rapidly maybe.
We – Generations Y and Z – are the first generation in Europe to almost exclusively change the world with hardly any form of violence. We reject basic ideas of capitalism without even noticing it, simply because technology is making them redundant. We have grown up in multiethnic societies and conciously reject our grandparents’ open and our parents’ ingrained racism. We fight sexism. We denounce exploitation and the devoting of our lives to someone else’s profit. Unsurprisingly, all of this terrifies some people. Politicians failed to address these issues, and unfortunately the EU took the blame for it.
There is really only one thing that could change the course I fear we are on. That is a strong Labour party, one that can win the next election with the help of the SNP (hopefully governing their own country as a proud member of the EU by then). But this seems unlikely at present.
Above all other ideological affiliations, I am a democrat. And as a democrat I have to accept a defeat. I have to accept being oppressed by a majority of an older generation that seems intent on depriving us of our future. This is why I am leaving this country. When? Definitely before the ink dries on the divorce contracts. Where does the journey go? I do not know yet, but hopefully somewhere where it is warm and our generation has a voice. We may have lost the battle for Britain but we have not lost the peaceful war for a world shaped by us. Goodbye Britain, please don’t let bigotry ruin you.