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A jab back at Brexit (or a kick in the teeth)

The UK general election on July 4 is a symbol.

4 min read

Nigel bloody Farage

I grew up in Britain, but I was able to be there because of my European citizenship. When I moved to the US it was because my mother was terminally ill; I’d always assumed that I would go back. When the Brexit vote happened, I took it extremely personally: in lots of ways, the British public voted to throw people like me out.

In the interim, some people have assured me that, no, it’s not people like me. After all, I have a British accent, and if you didn’t actually know, you’d be forgiven for assuming that I was British. Of course, that’s a hugely xenophobic reflex: my British accent makes me okay, but someone else’s Polish accent means that they’re not. I stand with the people who more obviously come from somewhere else; I do, too. All of us are (or, I suppose, were) an active part of British society, integral parts of communities, and so on.

Brexit was offensive, stupid, counterproductive, and xenophobic. I’m not glad that Britain has been suffering the consequences of this own-goal, because so many of my friends still live there, and so many communities are suffering. Spitefully wishing ill on people who are hurting isn’t a good look. But I certainly have no love for the people who voted for this travesty.

It’s not fun to be barred from living in the place I called home. It happened at a time in my life when it was becoming apparent that there was a terminal, genetic disease that runs in my family; multiple family members had it, and I hadn’t yet had the genetic test that suggested my sister and I weren’t going to get it. It was the same year that Trump became President on a similarly anti-immigrant platform. Overall, it was A Bad Time.

Oddly, then, I’m not unhappy to see Nigel Farage run for Prime Minister. Obviously, he’s among the worst people alive, as if the worst impulses of British society had been congealed, Doctor Who style, into a comic book villain with an angry toad for a face. Two of his children are even dual European citizens, because the hypocrisy is part of the schtick for these people. But because he’s running, he’s going to split the Conservative vote, with the hard right voting for Farage and the people who claim they’re not hard right voting for whoever the Conservative leader of the week will be on — who picked this day?! — July 4th. (It’ll be Rishi Sunak or a slowly-decomposing head of iceberg lettuce. Let’s see.)

Keir Starmer is not a giant leap of an improvement: a John Major impersonator who would have comfortably been a Tory candidate in 1995. But at least he’s not one of the guys who brought about Brexit and all of the ludicrous policies that followed. It’s something. A jab back for all the people who have been hurt over the last 14 years since hog aficionado David Cameron was first elected with the help of a last-minute coalition assist from Nick Clegg, who, of course, now leads international face-saving for Meta.

A Conservative loss is the foothills of the foothills of the foothills of the work to be done to rebuild. But it would, at least, be a baby step forward. And even then, I’m ready to be disappointed, because, really, nothing in this arena has gone well since forever, and I, for one, have lost the ability to be really optimistic.


Photo by Gage Skidmore

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