On the evening of 23rd June 2016 I had to work late. My vote had been cast and whilst nothing in life is certain I was happy that as a nation we wouldn't be foolish enough to vote to leave the European Union.
For background I'm from Northern Ireland where I am self-employed, supplying unique hi tech bespoke solutions to industry locally and across Europe (beyond on occasions). My suppliers are in Ireland, Germany, Italy and the UK. As I was packing up that night I paused to consider logging in to pay a Euro invoice to a supplier in Ireland. It was late, I was tired, the bill could wait. I wanted to get home and watch the count. This proved to be the first impact of the leave vote on my life. I am by no means wealthy, my business is small so it came as a shock when the immediate consequence of the vote to leave was a sudden drop in the pound. That meant the cost of the unpaid Euro bill rose dramatically. Not exactly the brexit dividend and it certainly put a strain on my business for a few months. This made me angry.
As the next few days unfolded the seriousness of the decision started to sink in. I have two sons, a musician and a medical student. Both will be hit by the changes that are coming.
The musician survives on a minimum wage job as he tries to make a success of music. That will mean travel throughout Europe. Changes to his status as a UK citizen will make that extremely difficult. The freedom to go on a European tour at a moments notice is gone. The ability to skip across borders with guitars and amps and no paperwork will be over. Young bands have it tough enough, they can't afford customs agents and they will face a nightmare of administration if they want to play outside the UK. Any negative economic hit will impact those in minimum wage jobs first too. In short it could kill the dream I've encouraged him to chase. This makes me very angry.
The medical student is in a very different situation. We were discussing a few days ago how his University effectively withdrew from Erasmus which stole the opportunity for him to undertake some of his studies in Europe. But that is minor compared to the problems he faces in two years time when he starts his F1 year. The NHS is in a bad enough state. As hostility rises towards our fellow Europeans they are starting to leave in droves. Many EU national doctors and nurses have had to re-evaluate their futures. That means those futures are where they are respected and feel secure, not despised and threatened. The upshot will be further understaffing and the junior doctors and young nurses will face the worst of it. Forced into longer and longer hours, (many unpaid as is already the case) they will be held responsible, legally responsible for every exhausted error they might make. They will see restrictions on availability of drugs, services, vital equipment. Worse, they will be forced into a privatisation nightmare. This is not what our young, prospective doctors and nurses bought into when they started training. It's certainly not what my son had in mind. His ability to deliver care will be hampered by brexit. The NHS cannot be sustained in the post brexit economic disaster zone. His future, his fellow students futures and our health are under threat. This makes me very angry.
On a personal level I have been stunned into an angry depression. I am European/British/Irish/Northern Irish mix those about as you wish. I have enjoyed fellowship with the rest of Europe and watched as something good, something great has been built over the last 40 years. A union of people who care about each other, who seek a better future for all, whose vision goes beyond the boundaries of Europe and seeks to give a hand up to others. I saw how Europe saved the UK. I lived through the worst, as a child I remember paraffin lamps on hand and often used because of strikes and power cuts. I recall my mum being issued petrol rationing cards, unemployment rocketing as the country fell to its knees. How are things now? I've watched as Europe has reached out to others as more countries entered the fold. It reaches out in developing nations to support them too. It has also been critical in keeping investment going throughout the poorest areas of the UK where our governments failed to invest. Cynical voices have derided those efforts but their source is usually the greedy and the self-interested. Europe to me has been an imperfect source of goodness. One that we should have committed to fully to help it grow and improve. Instead we allowed the dissenting voices to rumble on unchallenged for decades. Undermining development and despising the EU for having the audacity to save us from ourselves. This makes me very angry.
Those who still think Britain is independently important on the world stage fed the nationalistic exceptionalism that is so unique to a certain type of English person. The sort who seem to honestly believe they won two world wars single handedly and that the empire is out there waiting to be restarted. Blinded to reality and misled by a self-serving media they have been pawns in the biggest game of disaster capitalism ever seen. Now we are all going to pay the price. Did I say angry earlier? I meant furious. I feel it rise in me as I type this. Incredulity fills my head. How have people been so bloody stupid? The lies? The lies? The lies? Do they not see the truth? I am self-employed. Just me. I have supplied equipment to Europe, America, Far East. BEING IN EUROPE MADFE THAT POSSIBLE! As a nation we rely on being an English speaking gateway to Europe for most of our inward investment. Businesses come here because they can deal freely with 27 other nations and find the talent they need to do that from all 28. I end up howling at the moon. How can people be so stupid? Worse, who gave them the right to mess up so many lives? This makes me very angry.
But so it is. We watch as our Parliamentary Democracy is destroyed in the name of democracy. We regain the sovereignty we always had. (We actually lose sovereignty, the sliver of ours we shared brought us 27 other slivers, it widened our sovereign influence in the EU nations but that's way too complex a concept for the many). We will wave goodbye to access across so many EU programs, the list is endless, google it. We will need to spend billions re-creating myriad legislative bodies and expanding the civil service, way in excess of any EU payments. Payments by the way that came back to us in spades, regenerating the areas our governments deprive. I could go on, we all know the story. 36% of a carefully managed electorate are now the 'will of the people' in a twisted direct democracy where MP's are devoid of any intellectual input in their votes and party is all. Where opposition means whipping your members to support the madness. This makes me very angry.
As someone Northern Irish I find this all especially infuriating (understatement). I'm 57, I grew up through the troubles, watched as they consumed us all. Cheered with the rest as peace prevailed strived to live a 'normal' life. My children hadn't reached school age when peace broke out. They have enjoyed their normality. Whilst I believe warnings of a return to violence are exaggerated is that a risk worth anything? I'll let that one sit, let others ponder the morality of taking that risk with peoples lives. But we will certainly face the disaster that is a hard border. I have had plenty of experience of hard borders, both political and economic. Military checks to make sure I wasn't an undesirable, customs checks to make sure I had the right carnets for goods in my car. I have sat in queues at border checkpoints just for the privilege of a night out in Donegal or Dublin. A hard border will change lives, it will kill off trade, it will make people worse off. My personal area of expertise allows some insight into the potential 'technical solutions' our brexit friends love to talk about in gloss over terms.. Let's just say they form the basis of much humour amongst my technically qualified friends and I. So, because some idiots have a delusional notion of nationalism and sovereignty I now face a dramatic restriction on my freedom of movement. My only option for survival may be to move my business to the Republic of Ireland. But still businesses throughout Ireland will be damaged, some devastated. This makes me very angry.
I am also particularly angry with our local representatives. Our friends in the DUP have cut a dubious deal to sell us up the river. Refusing to represent the people of the Provence their leader claims authority (though she fails to form an executive to give that authority) and then undermines us all by supporting a policy that may well deliver her worst nightmare. Ironically the little englanders (sic) she is so keen to support would quite happily cut NI free to secure their brexit wet dream. This makes me laugh.
There are so many crazy, crazy scenarios where this madness changes how life will be and never in a positive way. This brief expression of how I feel is itself in danger of consuming me. You don't know me, I never did you any harm, why are you doing this to me? Yes you, you who are reading this and maybe didn't vote or voted leave for all the wrong reasons, because you were a bit annoyed that day and Cameron is a loser. You are the person who did this to me. Or maybe you did vote remain but oh well we lost they won, have we not left already? Seriously? You have so little respect for democracy that you just accept this mess? Unless you are at least having a damned good rant about it, then you are to blame. This makes me very angry.
Got the message? Brexit will destroy lives, brexit is destroying lives, brexit will probably break up the United Kingdom, brexit will hurt the worst off in our society the most. There is only one brexit and however you cut it, a Tory brexit or a Labour brexit it will be devastating to all but the wealthiest in this country. This makes me very angry.
The anger is almost all consuming. I escape to my twitter bubble for support. Yes of course we all know it's a bubble. A bubble where we help each other, share ideas and organise what resistance we can. Whatever happens we will know we tried to do what is best for everyone as the leave lobby pursued their self-serving agenda. This, to me, is the single biggest difference between remainers and leavers. Remainers care for everyone, leavers seem only to care for themselves. This makes me very angry.
If you've got this far you'll know how I feel about this brexit. It consumes me on a daily basis, holds me back from getting on with life. The theft of my future, my children's future, the future and wellbeing of people throughout this country and indeed throughout Europe is to the shame of everyone who did nothing about it. I will not stop fighting until this national moment of madness is reversed or my time on this planet is over.
Alan from Belfast