I tentatively drew back the blinds, eyes dulled and vision raw, as I tried to adjust to the early morning light. The meadows were still there and in fact after a careful listen I could hear the birds chirp angrily in love and war. I looked up at the skies; heavy-set with grey clouds and everything appeared relatively normal for a late March morning in Edinburgh.
Though, less than 24 hours ago the largest administrative negotiation I am likely live through was detonated. Article 50 sounded like a bomb raid siren as it rung mercilessly overheard, drumming up fresh panic and confusion, those in power would do well to explain what happens from here.
Those on either side of the vote remain wholly unaware of the implications and legislations that will now be thrust upon them. Talks of revised and more stringent border controls will no doubt come to fruition, though it is likely to infringe upon us; a country of happy fliers. There is every chance that extra tariffs and potential holiday visas will be introduced which will eliminate cheap European travel.
There is certainly no doubt, Article 50, and an irreversible move away from the world’s largest trading bloc, under current hard-line Brexit, will unequivocally change things here in the Britain, and you would have to be naïve to believe otherwise.
And this is the trouble, all arguments reduced to discussing the EU as a trading bloc, as if it were nothing more than a single common market. The reality that many of us chose to either ignore or be convinced of otherwise, is that the European Union was and perhaps is the greatest triumph towards democracy the world has delivered. The unification of previous warring nations, brought together under peace and prosperity, encouraging and stimulating trade, free movement and working towards improved quality of life for all members. Okay, things are certainly not perfect, but as Britain slinks out of the bedroom window, a moody teenager believing the world is easier on its own, we have abandoned on so many levels the resources and potential to collaborate with multiple nations on our back doorstep.
Many would argue there is more scope to fix and improve things from within rather than to wave goodbye and jettison the entire European Union. If you are apart of the younger demographic who voted to remain then you have just witnessed a regressive, cruel and detrimental step back of opportunities and affordances that will not be accessible as a removed UK.
Because this after all is a clash of the ages. The majority of 65’+s, across the board, voted in favour of Brexit, which reminds me of a joke by Irish comedian Dara O’Briain, that nostalgia is heroin for the elderly. This lethal dose of heroin has done more than tear families apart, it has torn generations down the middle and looks set to provide the messiest divorce in political history. With Theresa May, arrogantly brandishing a finger, demanding the best outcome for Britain post Brexit, she seems to ignore the wishes and appeals of Scotland, a country who overwhelmingly voted to remain a part of the European Union.
As her hard-line approach is flaunted, an intoxicated and self-assured swagger, it only confirms with what little regard she holds for Scotland’s people. My local constituency of Argyll, made up of rural and detached communities far from the sphere of London’s gravitas and economy, rely heavily on EU subsides. Unlike the bulk of coastal towns south of the border that voted for Brexit there seems to be an understanding up here at least of the importance and necessity to maintain and continue EU membership. Labs and research units like Dunstaffnage marine, just fifteen minutes from my family home, which bring experts, internationals and skilled job prospects, would otherwise struggle to function without European funding.
Ex-industrial towns and cities across the United Kingdom, hardest hit by austerity cuts, were fertile grounds for Leave voters. Fuelling deep division, insecurity and isolation it has exasperated and confused a population who feel increasingly abandoned. Though as Britain remains divided over future EU relations, the belief that we will somehow revive the former glories outside of the European Union is about as corrosive as the seawater that batters against these coastal regions. There is more reason now after the release of Article 50 to readdress potential Scottish Independence, with pragmatic and thoughtful debate over where we would like to see our position in Europe, and in what capacity.
The tired rhetoric of reliving former glories and building a nation to be great again are simply the kicks of that heroin like nostalgia. We have seen its powerful effect across the Atlantic as millions chased the dragon, and as the president’s approval rating plummeted to historic lows, many awoke to realise it will never be like that first time.
Just because things were once less ethnically diverse, just because the empire once spanned the globe, doesn’t mean things were better; after all these were the days of scurvy and when it was expected for women to remove their husbands shoes after he finished from a day of work. If you want those days back then you would be as well shooting yourself from a cannon down the corridors of time and into the past. Because lets face it, things have improved since then. Health care is better off, education levels are climbing, people are more connected and informed than we have ever been, and the rights of all humans are progressing in the correct direction.
This world is becoming more global whether you like it or not. It is not the time to be redefining border lines and erecting militarised walls, it is a time to work collectively and unanimously together in the interests of all life on this planet. We should not back down to the rhetoric that we are ‘against the state’ or ‘anti-democratic’, after all 48% of us voted to remain and why now should we join with the Leave side. We must value the close call, but it is time to stand for the future we want to see here, either in the UK, or as an independent Scotland.
By Liam McGuckin