A divided kingdom

We woke to a new reality on Friday 24 June, and a new direction for our country.

If, like me, you’d hoped to remain, I’m sure it was a disappointing moment when you realised the result had gone against you.

If you’d voted to leave, I’m sure you’ll be excited that the United Kingdom will have the chance to take back control of its destiny and stand on its own two feet.

As the dust settled, the pundits have looked for reasons why we turned away from Europe.

You could blame anti-immigration, anti-Conservative, anti-Cameron or anti-Corbyn, anti-European or anti-establishment. You could blame years of EU-myths and the right-wing media. You could say it was about freedom, fear or hate.

But it was probably all of them. And what this referendum has revealed, especially when combined with the divisive general election results, is how fractured we are right now.

A very British revolution

Owen Jones in the Guardian wrote that this was a working class revolt, with millions fed up with the system. And when there was nothing to lose, leaving, making a change, was never a gamble. It’s true that for so many the system has failed them again and again.

Meanwhile the young have been left speechless and powerless. Politics is cyclical, and with 75% of 18-24 year olds voting remain, the next generation will have their day, someday.

Migrants and European workers in Britain will be uncertain about what the future holds for them – and what their place is in their communities is.

The butterfly effect

The ripples from the vote are already being felt.

The markets and pound crashed (and bounced), some big businesses and financial institutions revealed plans to leave themselves, our EU neighbours postured (some calling for a quick exit and tough deals and others demanding their own referendums), and political leaders toppled (or perhaps began to topple slowly). While Spain eyes up Gibraltar, it’s likely, and understandable, that Scotland and Northern  Ireland will try to seek their own freedoms too.

David Cameron promised One Nation politics. Sadly his legacy will be a country that’s never been more divided.

This may be a short, sharp shock. It may be the start of another recession, job losses, falling house prices and rising costs of living. We’ll see, no one could really predict the future on the campaign trail.

I’m sure we’ll all roll our sleeves up and get on with it and we’ll make Britain a success in the long run. But we’ll be judged on our efforts, there’ll be no-one else to blame or bail us out from now on.

Stronger, together

But the real challenge is how we get our society back together.

The first step will be for both ‘remainers’ and ‘brexiteers’ to work towards building a new country together (I’m working through the change curve, I promise, I’ll get there).

Theresa May’s leadership – and her choices for her top government posts – will be crucial in starting to heal the country and recreate much-needed stability. Her vision of a country that works for everyone is an honourable one – one that Cameron would have endorsed – now we’ll see how successful she can be.

And we all, and I mean all of us not just the political class, will have to stand up and start healing the rifts.

Whether you backed remain or leave, hold Labour, Liberal or Conservative views, we now have to make the most of this opportunity, put the past few months behind us, reengage positively with our neighbours, next door, across the channel and online, and try to reunite our United Kingdom.

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