A personal opinion piece on the UK’s EU referendum, a country divided and why many of those who voted to leave are the very worst kind of people.
by John Pope on June 27, 2016
Our job here at P&G is not to be divisive or pass political comment, it is to write about food in a way that encompasses everyone. Absolutely everyone has to eat and drink, it is one of life’s great levellers.
Add to that the fact that we want as many readers as possible, it seems strange then that I have just sat down to write an article that will quite possibly alienate or drive away at least 17 million potential readers.
I am going to ignore all of that though and write what I feel because sometimes the issue is just too big to ignore, because it dramatically affects the future of this website and because I am the editor at P&G so I can do whatever I like.
Here then is my personal view on the referendum that has possibly (I say possibly since the referendum is only advisory and every UK political leader seems to be very quickly distancing themselves from the broken promises of the leave campaign) just taken the UK out of the EU, the people who voted in it, and the events that have closely followed.
… and my issues are…
Are the things that I want to talk about at all food related?
No, not really. There are a number of food and drink based issues to be looked at, questions like whether or not food and drink prices will rise in the UK because of import and export taxes once we leave the common market, or what happens regarding EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) food products created in the UK. These are questions for other articles though.
I should probably start out by clarifying (although it is probably fairly obvious) that my vote was to remain in the EU.
My real problem with the referendum result and the inevitable fallout is not about food, but it’s also not about the economy, trade deals, the NHS or immigration controls.
I feel that it is desperately sad that the current youth, as well as future generations, may now miss out on the freedoms to live and work in 28 (or more) countries, freedoms that I have used, enjoyed and loved. Even this tragedy though is not my biggest issue.
The reality is that my biggest problems are firstly with people who voted the way that they did for what I perceive to be the wrong reasons and secondly with myself.
I walk down the street or through the shop knowing that half of the people voted in a way that I couldn’t disagree more with and that a good percentage of those did it for reasons which make me physically sick and I have no way of knowing which ones they are.
There must be plenty of people who voted leave for what they believe are the right reasons. Some of them are idiots fooled by all of the completely baseless promises of the leave campaign, others are presumably highly intelligent people who really do think that this breakup offers the best future for the country, who can say whether they are right or wrong at this moment in time.
The big issue is that there are far too many people who voted leave for the wrong reasons. Perhaps because they are disenchanted with the current government or as some kind of protest vote, or far more chillingly those who have actually revealed themselves to be racist and xenophobic arseholes and the most deplorable kind of human being on the planet.
Racist attacks and abuse are already rapidly on the rise days after the vote and the saddest thing is that the vote to leave triumph has (in their own eyes) legitimised them. Remain supporters are taking to social media in their masses to highlight and condemn these attacks but oddly the leave voters seem worryingly quiet.
Such feelings of hate and the abhorrent way they are being displayed are really quite alien to me. I have never understood nationalism, racism or xenophobia. We do not get to choose where we are born or where we are raised as a child, neither does anyone else, so what right do we have to judge anyone on that criteria?
I am saddened that I have in the wake of this referendum result become somebody that I really don’t like very much.
I don’t want to engage with random people, I have very little faith or belief in the people around me and I have started to make assumptions about people which are at times probably massively unfair. Worst of all I have a level of anger that I have only ever felt once before in my life, today it is focused on this subhuman subset of leave voters, previously it was directed towards cancer cells that were rapidly eating their way through someone I cared about.
For some of the people who voted leave in the recent referendum and who have since then gone on to show that they are opportunist racist idiots who now feel that they have a new legitimacy and public mandate to share their views I think that the cancer cell analogy is not really a stretch.
Many of the brightest and best people that I know are immigrants, whether they are in the UK or elsewhere. The prosperity of the UK and the position that it holds in the world (or did until last Friday morning) have been built on the hard work of people from all colours, creeds and faiths over a massively long period of time.
I have been an immigrant myself many times, it is just that because I am English I get called an expatriate rather than an immigrant, it’s the same bloody thing but the use of an alternative word highlights very well the complex that drove so many people to vote leave.
And what does all of this mean for me personally?
It means that in the nearest possible future, the articles that I write for P&G will be penned somewhere different, in a country where I do not wonder about every individual that I meet. It is not that I am so naive that I don’t believe there are plenty of the worst kind of people in every country in the world, but I have been truly shocked by the percentage of the UK population who have publicly shown themselves to be so.
Will the articles that we publish on P&G take a different direction?
Not really, maybe they will be more focused on the local cuisine of one place in particular more than they currently are, but at the end of the day we love to cook, eat and explore all kinds of food and nothing is going to change that. This really is a very different new world but life goes on and so does P&G.