Beyond Thursday

Watching the UK from afar, I’m shocked and confused by what I’m seeing. Less than a week out from the most important vote of my generation, the horizon looks bleak. Which ever way the vote goes, whether we decide to remain in the EU or choose to leave, the last few months have seen the rise of an atmosphere so toxic that it’s difficult to imagine how the clean up will go.

This referendum is only happening because of a promise made for political gain, not because the majority of the parliament, the individuals elected to represent the country, believes we should leave the EU. What’s worse is that a narrative based on fear, racism and often lies has been allowed to become mainstream. It’s utterly sickening that the UK Independence Party can publish posters showing lines of refugees (that’s  people -other humans – fleeing war and violence) as propaganda for the Leave campaign. When did such a thing become an acceptable political campaigning tool?

And what happens now? Will Thursday’s vote be the climax of this shamefully ugly period of politics, fear-mongering, hatred and even murder? Or, if the Leave campaign wins, will the unthinkable happen and see the UK slip even further into the mud and be left with a country that is isolated and led, at best, by an elite out of touch with reality or, at worst, by the far-right?

Thursday will come and we will know, one way or another, which choice has been made. But I fear that Thursday is only the beginning. Because if the Leave campaign wins, the UK borders might close, but internally the country has divided itself deeply and exposed an incredibly ugly side to its character. And even if we Remain, which I hope we do, the beast that has grown over the last few months does not have the kind of head that can easily be cut off.

Remain or Leave, the UK has been changed by this referendum. By remaining, the UK has a chance to recover. It has a chance to go back to Europe and work hard to make the EU better – because it needs to be better, better for all of us living in it, better for those poor people plastered all over a campaign backed by a hate group masquerading as a political party. But from within, at least we can try.

At least we can be part of something that could be good rather than sinking alone to a depth that will leave a  scar on the country for a long time to come.

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