Keir Baker: ‘a mandate to spread the bile and hatred’

The Leave vote has given a mandate to the likes of FarageEuro Realist Newsletter

As a passionate Remain voter, it would be an understatement to describe the referendum result as disappointing. Feelings of worry and fear as to what the next few decades might hold are mixed with a feeling of betrayal by an older generation who have damned the future of their children and their grandchildren. There will be many serious and harmful consequences: economic and social; tangible and intangible. Yet one of the most damaging consequences of the result of this referendum may well be one not intended by a significant proportion of those who voted to end our relationship with the EU. As the results from across the country rolled in, each newly-blue section of the map contributed to a tacitly-created mandate which may see the views, the beliefs and even the policies of Farage, Gove and Johnson imposed upon a country that has already been scarred by their poison over the last few weeks. Make no mistake: Nigel Farage at this present moment believes that he has unwavering support – for his cause, his beliefs and his world view – of the 52 per cent who dared to vote Leave.  

This is not to say that there are arguments against the EU which are understandable. The EU is not a perfect organisation; for example, there are obvious concerns as to the extent to which it can be considered truly democratic. So when a Leave voter puts forward arguments such as these to rationalise their vote to end our membership of the world’s biggest trade bloc, their vision for the future of this country becomes somewhat more palatable. 

But no matter the 'purity' of the reason for which they themselves chose to vote, every Leave voter must accept that by voting to reject our EU membership, they have implicitly legitimised some of the most divisive and disgusting views aired in British political discourse in modern times. For instance, there are many voters of a left-wing persuasion who have chosen to vote Leave. They may feel that the EU promotes and facilitates a level of capitalism irreconcilable with their principles. During the campaign, they often dismissed pro-EU propaganda citing a list of right-wing individuals in favour of Brexit as irrelevant, arguing that voting Leave was not to 'get into bed' with politicians that they would otherwise vilify. 

But this is completely erroneous. It is trite to say that left-wingers did not come close to making up the majority of the anti-EU campaign. Thus, it follows that their points of view were drowned out by the other anti-EU arguments which are based on right-wing ideals, nationalism and – to a deplorable extent – xenophobia. It must be stressed that this is not to tarnish all Leave voters with the same brush. Not all Leave voters subscribe to ideologies that must be rejected. And yet, every single vote for Leave has subliminally given Farage, Gove and others a mandate to spread the bile and hatred which the EU when it was established all those years ago sought to eliminate. 

Brexit promises an exciting alternative to the EU's style of discussionDiliff

Connor MacDonald: ‘it should fill us with hope’

As dawn broke on a post-Brexit United Kingdom, voters woke up to a political establishment in disarray. A government in chaos not only because of the surprising result, but also due to the enormity of the task ahead. Some said Article 50 should be invoked immediately, others claimed a slower approach is necessary. Certain EU leaders (Juncker in particular) want swift negotiations; others, eager to mollify their own countries’ Eurosceptic sentiment, have taken a light touch. What is certain, however, is that we live in interesting times, as the Chinese proverb goes. This should fill us all (even Leavers) with a sense of apprehension – the events of the next year will be momentous. More importantly, it should fill us with hope. Finally, the British public will solely be able to decide on questions of immense importance regarding the country’s future.

Britain can now have the mature debate it has longed for, without the EU dictating the limits. Questions about Scotland, Article 50, immigration, free trade, environmental legislation – I could go on ad nauseam – are now in the hands of the British people. Albeit perhaps subject to international pressure, only Parliament and the electorate will now be able to have the final say. What this vote has impressed upon us all – and what I believe the UK so desperately needed to realise – is that it is up to ordinary people to fight for the country they believe in. It will no longer be enough to secure victories in the board rooms of Brussels. The choices that Britain will take over the next few years will be made with the British population watching, but the public will no longer be able to hide behind hatred of the foreign and Brussels to beat the political establishment.

Referendum fallout will have a major impact on language students Anna Jennings

To my Remain friends: now is your chance. We are probably going to have a general election within a year – fight for the openness, the international cooperation, the environmentalism you believe in. Build a lasting democratic consensus. To my Conservative friends: ours has always been a party that has valued free enterprise, strong communities and freedom – we cannot let the xenophobia of a vocal minority diminish Great Britain. Let us build a conservatism based on an open Britain and craft a democratic consensus which can withstand the hate that can consume democratic politics. To those who say that the xenophobes have already won, I ask you to not concede defeat before joining the battle. You are embracing a view of your countrymen so pessimistic that I wonder why you fought for the future of this country to begin with. There are many Leavers as repulsed by the bigotry of some on the right as you are. There are many Leavers as committed to international cooperation as you are. You have an opportunity to defeat the forces of small-mindedness. The challenge may be great, but I am confident that the victory will be greater still.

Cat Watts: ‘this result has turned my world upside down’

The German news was great this morning. They started in the studio, looked at some statistics, tried to figure out what on earth Britain had been thinking. They talked to their correspondents in London, in Berlin, in the Frankfurt stock exchange, who were all pretty nonplussed. Then they cut to the weather (very rainy today, particularly in the South West). I had a bit of a cry. Sometimes you have to, when you let go of a dream. When I grew up I wanted to be an EU administrator. Now I’m not even eligible for the examinations.  My friend wanted to be an internal interpreter – she’ll probably end up freelancing. It’s frustrating knowing that even forging a career outside our country won’t grant you a secure future now.

So here I am, halfway through an MML degree with which I no longer know what to do, about to go on my year abroad. We joke about the cheap flights, but for me that’s my ticket home. We make light of the loss of free roaming, but that’s the call home to my mother, or the emergency call to the Year Abroad Office if it all goes horribly wrong. The depreciation of the pound would worry me less if I didn’t have to convert every penny to my name in the next few months. Learning a language just got expensive, uncertain, and elitist – as if more elitism is what this country needs.  I was in Year 12 the first time I could afford to go to Paris. I had been learning French for five years and I really, really hoped I had been learning it right. People like me won’t get into Cambridge any more. People who can afford visas and flights, a quick hop across the channel to brush up on their speaking – they will get into Cambridge.

Neglect of rural voters was a major campaigning failureDerek Voller

It’s hard not to take Brexit personally. To me the EU has always meant “the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”. It means “a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail” (Treaty of Lisbon, General Provisions, Article Three). I believed in that, and I built my life around it; it was the compass by which I navigated my life. And 52 per cent of Britain rejected it. I feel European just as much as – maybe more than – I feel British, and Britain rejected Europe. I’m a stranger in my own country, and I’m losing citizenship in the countries which I thought were my future. This result has turned my world upside down. One thing I am sure of is that it’ll be linguists on the front line. We voted Remain, believed harder than anyone, but we’ll be the ones negotiating the future of the Brexiteers. I hope we’ll make a good thing out of it. I know it will never be what I wanted. I’ll be fighting for Europe – for those seventy years of unprecedented peace, cooperation and friendship. I’ll be fighting for the people who have so much more to feel scared and angry about today than me. The dream is much bigger than me, and it is too precious to let go.

Rose Payne: ‘the solution to this problem is to work for a more unified society’

Like many students, I voted Remain in yesterday’s referendum, and I think I am probably pretty typical of voters on this side. I’m upper middle class, a Labour supporter, and a Cambridge student. However, I also grew up – and still live – in a tiny village in rural East Dorset called Wimborne St Giles, which has been a Conservative constituency for as long as I, or my parents, can remember. When I went to cast my vote with my family in the village hall, we ran into quite a few of our neighbours. They are on the whole pleasant, sensible people, many of whom I’ve known since birth. However, this morning I woke up to find out that Leave had been victorious, and that this was somewhat unsurprisingly in part due to rural voters overwhelmingly voting for Brexit.

There is a trend in the media, as well as in in the general public, for metropolitan, civilised, city-dwellers to distance themselves from the rural voters. There is an attitude that they’re a lost cause, that they’re going to vote conservatively anyway, that they’re small-minded and therefore there is no point in campaigning. It’s pretty revealing that no canvassers showed up in my village in the run-up to the election. I firmly believe that this is the wrong attitude. The fact is that many of the few hundred people who showed up to vote simply didn’t have the privilege of the personal experiences and education many of us have. It may be difficult to believe, but many of the people in my village may never even have met a recent immigrant to the UK, and instead rely entirely on word-of-mouth and the biased portrayal of immigrants in the media. Both campaigns are guilty of bending the truth in order to sway the public opinion; the sad truth is that many of those who most need to see different points of view to their own are easily swayed.

Social media today has been filled with angry reactions Anna Jennings

The solution to this problem is to work for a more unified society, to work with those who voted on both sides against what divides us. For those in rural areas, this means making unbiased information more available, not counting on an ability to see through politicians’ rhetoric. Last summer I worked within the education department of the Migration Museum Project, which aim to educate the public about the reality of migration in the UK. I saw for myself what a huge impact this initiative could have. An important further step would be to diversify the media; although steps have been made, the core television and radio channels that people in rural areas can access remain remarkably homogeneous. I do believe that there is still hope. The fact that younger generations overwhelmingly voted Remain shows that we have a power to make our own decision. We will be the future policy makers and politicians. I think that there is a brighter future ahead, even if today we feel we have lost.

Xavier Bisits: ‘we’ve lost. Let’s be gracious about it.’

Like most young, vaguely Blairite denizens of the The Bubble I strongly supported remaining in the EU. I am a Hungarian citizen and my right to live, work and die in the UK rests on this basis. I would bore you with other reasons for loving the EU but I would be regurgitating 80 per cent of Varsity’s content, as well as that of your newsfeed, over the past two weeks. I am, however, appalled by the reaction of my peers to the result. A mature, impressive case for EU membership led by Cantabs has morphed into a bitter character assassination of the rest of the UK. It is, apparently, acceptable to put on Facebook: “it’s a sad day when you allow the logic of Stoke and Sunderland prevail over that of London, Oxford and Cambridge.” Students have solemnly declared that “the ignorant, racist twats of this country far outweigh the number of reasonable people”. And yes, your “racist granny” is “stupid as fuck”.

Legions of young people have made semi-serious declarations that they’d rather be a Brefugee to Ireland than – God forbid – put up with living in the same country as people who disagree with them (#tolerance).  A friend of mine – himself a BME immigrant – has already had seven people delete him on Facebook for the thought crime of voting for Brexit.  Others have, in one go, managed to demand that Parliament ignore the outcome of the vote as well as piss all over the “racist” working class of this country. As an outsider, it’s sickening to see the country’s elite make condescending, hateful attacks on “little Englanders”. Cambridge is meant to be the epitome in self-awareness but for now it’s the moody 23-year-old still living at home and pissed off because granny bought him an Evelyn Waugh novel to read rather than some edgy French film collection for his birthday.

It’s not just the British. Many EU nationals seem to have taken Brexit as a racist personal insult on the part of nasty pensioners. It’s not. Personally, I favour high immigration. But it’s absurd to suggest that supporting anything less than total freedom of movement constitutes racism. I happen to disagree with all reasons for lowering immigration – but it’s implausible to attribute all of these to racism, especially when the primary object of anti-immigrant sentiment are white Europeans. The question of the EU’s refugee intake did awaken racist sentiment – but anyone who followed the debate will know this issue remained secondary to EU immigration per se. If the UK doesn’t want Hungarian immigrants, so be it. That’s almost certainly not motivated by any racial animus. Brexit is a massive personal inconvience for me – but racist? I doubt it. 

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be worried. Brexit is, I believe, an encouragement to genuinely racist forces in Europe – such as the notoriously anti-Roma and anti-Semitic Hungarian party Jobbik. This worries me. And if you’re British and you don’t want the country to go in this direction, of course you have a right to be upset. But lay off the cheap, classist caricatures of 52 per cent of this country. It’s no wonder so many of them lobbed a brick at the establishment when they’re subject to the kind tantrums I’ve just described. And in a couple of days – when we’ve all calmed down, and if you’re feeling charitable – focus on the turnout, one of the highest in years. This was a good thing.