On the 23rd of June 2016 I found myself sitting alone through the night at a friends house in Solihull. When I arrived we chatted casually into the night, nervously confident of a vote to remain in Europe. I was frantically following twitter for updates and when Nigel Farage conceded remain would win I breathed a sigh of relief, put my phone away and played cards for an hour in the warmth of the conservatory. As we all headed to bed I briefly checked my phone. Sunderland had announced a much bigger vote to leave than expected. As my friends lay down their heads, I turned on the telly to worried faces and a sinking feeling as the result unfolded.
I was one of the 48% who voted to remain, and since the result, it feels like we’ve had a political whirlwind rushing through the UK. Once the referendum result was in we watched the pound plummet and financial markets react with cliff edge graphs for a few hours before David Cameron walked out from his front door to steady the ship. But his wife was there too and suddenly it became clear he was resigning. The opposite of what he said he’d do. And we were cut adrift without anyone in charge. Since then our politics seems to be disintegrating as Theresa May becomes party leader and Prime Minister with 183 mp’s support and not a vote from members of party or public. Meanwhile the opposition leader loses the confidence of 172 MPs, can’t fill an opposition cabinet and refuses to go because of the mandate of his 251,417 membership votes. The icing on the cake of this farce is the appointment of Boris Johnson, winner of The Spectator’s President Erdogan Offensive Poetry competition, as Foreign Minister a week before an attempted military coup in Turkey. With this appointment, political satire as we know it is dead, it can’t compete with real life.
Our frantic 24hr news cycle doesn’t even let us sleep. The sacking of Hilary Benn at 1:30 am on Sunday morning snatched me from my slumber. There has been too much change and not enough time to process my thoughts and feelings. I decided I needed to carve out a space to deal with my own reaction to Brexit. I will cycle to Brussels, the home of the European Parliament, to pay my respects to British membership of the EU. I hope this will allow me to come to terms with the seismic shifts in our politics and meet people from the UK and the EU who haven’t changed since the vote.