It is the 23rd of June 2016. It’s raining in London. Again. The air is muggy and sticky. I work in a delightful little loft set up in a small start up agency in Soho, London. Just last week Old Compton Street was bursting with people holding a vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting. It showed togetherness, support, love and the kind of empathy that made me burst into tears immediately. I walk through streets with buildings littered with pride flags and bunting every single day and it makes me smile.
Since Prime Minister, David Cameron, ran for re-election, I have known that today would come. We all have. How could we forget when his entire campaign ran on the sole basis of holding an EU Referendum. I don’t think he, nor his advisers, knew just how vicious, ugly and horrifyingly close we would come to actually leaving the EU.
From his promise came the god-awful term, Brexit (which I hope I never ever have to hear again starting midnight on the 24th of June). From it all came fear, scaremongering, violence, racism, heartlessly blaming immigrants for everything, Islamophobia, terror, the murder of MP Jo Cox and the Leave campaign being likened to the nazis.
This country has seen some of the most shameful, Donald Trump-esque behaviour from politicians from both sides of the issue. Whatever we vote, I have already said there need to be some serious behavioural and moral changes to the way our politicians operate in this country. Because we are fractured. We are scared and we are totally and completely living in a sort of limbo where our very identity as a nation is in question. Even after the vote has been decided today it won’t change this.
I remember the 2012 Olympics. Like most Londoners I wasn’t particularly excited until the opening ceremony. It was fantastic. The entire nation came together, welcomed every last person and celebrated diversity, joy and so much more. I was beaming that year. And so very proud of my country in every sense.
That was just 4 years ago and I can hardly recognise this country anymore.
David Cameron has a lot to answer for. He has operated in a way that is so dangerous to this country he now risks breaking it into a million pieces. I am so immensely proud to be British (except when England play in a major football tournament because they just disappoint me too much and I can’t trust them but that’s beside the point) and Cameron is ruining it. He is ruining the pride we all have in our country. And his gormless approach to his job has paved the way for the likes of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove to also be just as reckless, feckless and dim-witted. The fact that they all seem to be stupid and laugh in the face of actual facts doesn’t make me laugh. It makes me afraid. Because they have the power and the rhetoric to reach the bigots in our country. And to turn the fence-sitters onto their side.
This is the most important vote of our lifetime in this country. We have to decide whether we are going to remain and stay together – start to rebuild this country on a moral level or if we are going to leave and watch as we become broken, afraid and bigoted. In that case, we should think about inviting Putin and Trump for tea.
It’s not about Cameron. He is beyond hope as the leader of our country. We, the voters, have to take this into our own hands and vote to remain in the EU. And then we must decide to reject the dangerous and divisive rhetoric of our politicians, decide for ourselves to go back to being better and above all the ugliness the Referendum campaigning has poisoned us with.
We don’t have to go back to London 2012. London voted in a Muslim Mayor earlier this year. There is hope for all of us. We can do it. We can all do it together. As a nation and as part of the European Union.