Friday, 24 June 2016

What the EU referendum means to me.

So the UK is now set to leave the EU, almost half the country voted to stay but the majority of voters wanted the hell out of it and now they will hit a long period of uncertainty, and debate and an endless stream of tripe in the news constantly.

I very rarely talk about or even think about politics and I've certainly never considered writing about them but as an expat blogging Brit living in Cyprus I felt I should at least say something about the biggest political event in my lifetime so far.

I've always avoided politics, having never really understood most of it and always thought it to be a load of old waffle.  (much like this blog but I'm not trying to change the world!) I did vote once, just so I could say I'd done it but I can't remember when or even be 100% sure who for.  (It may have been Lib Dem on the assumption that Tory and Labour were both talking bull and they seemed a safer vote but I couldn't be sure now)

I assume that if I still lived in the UK I'd have had more of an opinion as the majority of my friends seemed to have voted yesterday, despite not having and political preferences as far as I know before. Many people I know were sharing news and opinions (with a smattering of complete rubbish here and there) on the run up too so I guess I would have had a definite opinion and done too.  None of my friends here have spoken about it at all as far as I know, and I don't know of anyone who voted. (of course they just might not have mentioned it!)

In all honesty,  I was only vaguely aware of the upcoming referendum over the last few months.  Of course I knew about it but I don't generally watch the news or read papers - I get the gist of most stuff via facebook / twitter (but I do actually read articles rather than the headlines!) and just tend to pop over to the BBC news site if something sounds interesting.

I did go to a meeting back in March which was open to all Brits in the Famagusta area, with Ric Todd, the British High Commissioner of Cyprus.  Of course the referendum was brought up and he explained that no-one could accurately predict what would happen in the event of a vote to leave, but also that it would take a minimum of two years for any changes to come into effect. People understandably worried about the changes that may affect their pensions, and healthcare etc and many spoke passionately about the Winter fuel allowance (that's a whole other story - don't get me started on that!)  He explained that Cyprus has always had reciprocal agreements with the UK and of course people from the UK lived and worked here before Cyprus joined the EU in 2004.

It was interesting to a degree, I was, I think, the youngest there but mainly it didn't feel relevant to me.  I don't think of the UK as my home, and haven't done for a long time now.  I live in Cyprus,  I have a Cypriot residence permit and a medical card.  What happens with the NHS, schools etc sometimes feels about as relevant as what happens in any other country to me.

I couldn't tell you 100% whether I thought it best for the UK to remain or leave.  It has been assumed that I would have wanted them to remain being as that I live in another EU country, but I can't say I'm worried about what will happen to us anymore than I was this time last year.

I didn't think for a second they would actually leave but what will be will be. What has surprised me more than anything is the split I've seen between my friends and family in the UK - such opposing views and such passion.   That has upset me more than anything else, the thought that there are families and friends so divided on the issue and the thought that many people will have voted on misinformation and scaremongering rather than actual facts.

There are some amazingly stupid questions going around, along with jokes, memes and everything else. Some are funny some are annoying but ultimately no-one really has any idea what will happen when they leave, or what would have happened had they stayed.  I have seen many people today say they are sad / scared / worried for their future, or dancing with joy that they will 'get their country back'.  Seeing as it will be at least two years before the UK officially leave  I would like to respectfully suggest that everyone has a cuppa, arranges their stiff upper lip and forms an orderly queue to put their best foot forward, keep calm and see what happens.

One of the most sensible quotes I have seen on facebook today from a friend...

Ok, a decision has been made and will not be changed no matter how much the 'remainers' whinge and moan. If times are harder we'll manage it, if they are better we'll enjoy it. It's that easy. And if everyone can stop f*****g asking each other how they voted there'll be a lot less agro between ourselves

and another I saw online

The country is full of people who don't know what's going on asking people who don't understand, a question that no-one knows the answer to!

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