It divided the government. It divided the parties. It divided the nation. The EU debate on both sides was based on passion, enthusiasm and a shear desire to be involved in politics.
But it was all too complex. Osborne was firing numbers at us that he got off the back of impossible calculations using unrecognisable formulas. Gove, Boris and Farage grilled us with the supposedly terrifying prospect of Turkey joining the EU, only for Remain to hit back moments later saying Turkey would not be joining for another 4000 years or so. And the £350 million figure feels like it has literally engraved itself in my brain due to hearing it so much. I occasionally see it floating around in my dreams.
Then just as we use all those cunning statistics, predictions and facts to form an educated opinion, it turns out none of them were actually true. The state Turkey is in at the moment means they look to be heading to a society based on North Korea’s ideology rather than the preferred democratic style put forward by the EU. Energy bills have not risen by £5,000 a year and San Marino has not yet overtaken the UK with its GDP. We were all fooled.
So I would not blame anyone for voting either way in the referendum. There were pros and cons to both sides of the argument and those slimy politicians did not exactly help the situation. But can we all just accept the result and move on? The young are still sighing every time they visit their grandparents because apparently their lives have been completely destroyed by the elderly. Oh yes, and the petition on a second referendum is a complete waste of everybody’s time because it will not happen.
And we should not stir up a toxic atmosphere which generalises Leave voters as a bunch of xenophobes and closet racists. Many voters supported Leave because they wanted to form new trade agreements with emerging economies, to get rid of needless red tape and because they were fed up of things being ‘EU funded’ even though the money came from the British taxpayer in the first place (it just went via Brussels).
And what is wrong about someone voting on the issue of immigration if they cannot get a doctors appointment, or a primary school place, or a chance to get on the property ladder? By leaving the EU, we will not shut our borders; we will just control them in a sustainable manner where migrants continue to excel in our economy and social lifestyle but in a system where we know how many houses to build next year and how many nurses to recruit.
The danger now would be to change the way we live. If we continue to invest, continue to spend and continue to cooperate, we will thrive. The Aussies have already come forward wanting to sign a trade agreement with us (something an EU member is unable to do). Economic ties with the US also look like they could be strengthened in the near future. It is in European interests to stay close to the UK economically for the sake of jobs on the mainland. And with the help of innovative projects like HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse, Britain could become a breeding ground for investors.
Whichever way you voted, let’s take advantage of the opportunities that have been gifted to us with Brexit and use them to build a brighter, more prosperous future for Britain. We can all succeed from the outcome of the referendum as long as we unite.