I’ve thought long and hard about the possible ramifications of a Brexit for the economy of Europe, the World, and so on and so forth. The choice now rests with the British people tomorrow, who will be voting if they want to ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’ the European Union. As an ex-European expat living in the UK, here is how I see tomorrow’s Brexit vote.
The discussion from both camps has been quite a convoluted one, and to be fair I have to admit that I wasn’t paying too much attention (even though I should!). In any case, I’m all for simplicity, so let us imagine the European Union as being a really cool party.
All the Member States are fixed guests at this party, each having a distinctive character that generally annoys another guest at this party. You get the typical clichés going on here;
- Germany is busy tidying up the place after Cyprus, Greece, and the other countries that take rules as being merely a suggestion.
- Italy is hitting on Sweden, and Denmark, and Portugal, and Latvia, and pretty much every other country in this party.
- Belgium is still trying to decide if it likes France more than the Netherlands or vice versa.
- Spain is asleep in the corner, passed out after way too much Sangria – probably next to Ireland.
- Luxembourg is being little miss perfect, while Romania, Croatia, and Bulgaria are arguing about which one of them is the most popular new guy.
- Finland, Estonia, and Lithuania are exchanging notes on heavy metal music, basketball, and how fun snow sports are .
- Malta is trying to act cool, while the other guests are like: “Who the F*** are you again?”
- Austria is still irritated that the other guests keep mixing her up with Australia and Germany.
- Poland is keeping a healthy five metre distance between itself and the UK…
And then there is the UK.
The UK would be that one friend you have at the party that is always there, but really, REALLY does not want to be there. The UK will be that one friend that will complain about every single thing; the music is too loud, the food is too salty, the company is not that great, the decorations are mediocre, and the venue is probably too dirty.
The UK will also be that one friend that will speak incessantly about its BFF, the USA. You would be having a conversation about literally anything, and the UK will just chime in and mention how amazing its BFF is (However, it would still ignore its BFF when it is tells the UK to REMAIN at the party).
And this is where I find myself at a loss when it comes to this Brexit referendum – I really want to the UK to stay in the EU, as I think it is in the best interest of both. However, British people make it excruciatingly difficult for them to be liked and respected by Europeans.
Granted, every single EU Member States has pockets of xenophobia and racism that is directed towards other nationals of European countries, so the rhetoric used by UKIP supporters is not unique to the UK. However, I hate to say this but I have experienced a lot of subtle prejudice by British people during the 2+ years I lived in the UK. I still remember backhanded comments during my university days along the lines of “Oh WOW, I would never expect YOU to have such a good level of English!” (Seriously, the UK colonized my country for over 150 years, I think a good grasp of your mother tongue is not that farfetched, but I digress).
There were times were I actually felt that me being a non-British person with a good grasp of both the English language and English culture infuriated certain locals. Again, this should not be taken as a sweeping statement as I do have several British friends (Hey G!!), and it could have been that my negative experience of life in the UK was an isolated one.
So here is my plea:
Dear UK, you may turn up your nose at the rest of us loud, lazy, irresponsible, and sometimes irrational Europeans, but we are not perfect. The good news is that neither you are perfect, but it is these imperfections and cultural quirks that bring us together and make the EU a great ‘party’ for everyone.
I really do hope that you choose to REMAIN, but then again if you choose to stay, please stop bitching and whining about every single guest and thing that goes on in the EU party.