A perspective on the EU referendum from a British non-voter

Image credit:    Charles Krüger   /   YouTube

Image credit: Charles Krüger/YouTube

In these situations, the non-voters always seem to be the devil. Arguments containing something about people fighting for our right to vote is the rhetoric, while I choose to believe that if you have little or no interest in politics, like myself, then you shouldn’t vote for the sake of it. Let people who are passionate and care enough about these things to take control. After all, they should know what they’re doing.

But in a drawn-out moment of irony I was swept into the sea, crashing between the feuding waves of Brexit and remain. My little political awareness was intrigued by what was set to be a historical and momentous occasion. For the first time in my life, I was actually prepared to vote.

Register I did, and not for the usual reasons. Immigration, the National Health Service and other forms of welfare were not major concerns plaguing my mind. I was more bothered about travel ramifications, something which would have a definite short-term impact for myself and so that’s why I was going to vote remain.

Then my plans hit a slight snag. Realising that I would be in Croatia on the day of the vote, appropriately in a city named Split, I quickly scrambled to find alternative voting methods. The deadline for postal voting had passed and, ridiculously, in this day and age, we aren’t able to vote online. Proxy voting was still a possibly, but I was still at university, my Dad was back at home and I didn’t have time to make a commute to get his signature. It meant that I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, be voting.

In all seriousness, this wasn’t too much of a worry. Not being big on politics meant that I wasn’t all that disheartened.

Then it happened. The country voted to leave.

Social media went into meltdown, and what seemed to be the majority of people were furious on my various timelines. Some of the statuses and updates were making points I’d never really considered; a mixed bag, some I agreed with and some I didn’t.

The biggest of those was the complaint about those 65 and older voting, those who will likely not be around to feel the full effect of the result.

I agree it would be harsh to omit people based on age, and those who are 65 could well be around for another 30 or more years. But when 16 and 17 year olds, who are of the legal age of consent and so are, in the eyes of the law, okay to bear and raise children and mould the minds of the next generation, are not trusted to decide their own future then signs point to a faulty system.

Vote Leave won with 51.9% of the votes, leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Davis Cameron. Image credit:    DIFD   /   Flickr

Vote Leave won with 51.9% of the votes, leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Davis Cameron. Image credit: DIFD/Flickr

Sure, the argument that people over a certain age have lived before and during the EU is a valid one as only they truly have a feel for both sides of the fence, but the United Kingdom pre-EU was in a time where we had a nation less tolerant and a generation less open-minded. A generation who grew up alongside law forbidding gay marriage, acceptable forms of racism, and in a landscape drastically different than that of today.

That’s not to suggest that any remain leavers are racist, homophobic and/or xenophobic. In all honesty, I was personally intrigued to see what would happen if the United Kingdom voted out of the EU, even though I was inclined to vote remain.

Looking at Norway and Switzerland as the model examples, two places who thrive commercially and financially yet aren’t under the blue and yellow flag, made me want to see what would happen if the UK followed in their footsteps.

Though it is crazy that my grandmother, who voted remain because “we were all right before and after the war,” will help decide the future of me and the rest of the youth in this country. The same woman who is too afraid to use her DVD player in case the television won’t go back to Freeview so that she can catch Countdown and The Chase every weekday afternoon.

There was even the story of the blind, 93-year-old woman whose question about which box she needed to select to vote leave was met with raucous cheer at her local polling station – a woman who will more than likely not be here by the turn of the next decade.

But, still, the vote was decided by those eligible and willing, and it is a decision that the citizens and nationals of the UK will have to stand by going forward. There will surely be plenty of voters from all age categories who aren’t politically competent, yet still get a say in how things are run.

So talk of Scotland and London joining forces to create a pro-EU state, because they were two of the biggest remain supporting areas, is just embarrassing.

Much like those remain voters who want a second referendum – sore losers who can’t help but be outraged because voting didn’t go their way. It is a sad sight to see.

I say that despite Brexit having an immediate impact on my own finances, thanks to the plummeting pound sterling which saw its lowest level since 1985 on Friday.

The likelihood is that it will recover over time, but considering that I will be visiting France, Monaco, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium and Lithuania over the next three months, seven out of eight of which are in the Eurozone, I’m could be set to lose up to around €500 worth of spending money because of the weaker currency at home.

UK passports are now outdated, with the words 'European Union' written across the top of them. Image credit:    Karen Byran   /   Flickr

UK passports are now outdated, with the words 'European Union' written across the top of them. Image credit: Karen Byran/Flickr

First world problems indeed, but it is a little frustrating that holidaymakers this summer who didn’t acquire the currency they need before Brexit will be getting less bang for their buck.

Understandably, the gamble is for long-term prosperity, but as somebody who is more concerned with the immediate future it is a little unsettling.

Especially when you consider that so many people think we’ve left Europe, judging by various posts across Facebook and Twitter, like the land has made salmon-esque leap to move its borders to another continent.

In fact, it’s hard to decide whether the Scotland and London partnership is more or less pathetic than people failing to make distinction between Europe the continent and the European Union.

But while the UK is no longer in the EU, it is important that the unity remains. Like the solidarity in wake of the recent Paris and Brussels terror attacks, the fellow EU member states are still allies. Promoting easy movement between the countries and maintaining good relations is essential, even if the words ‘European Union’ across the top of UK passports is now an invalid feature.

It is unity that the people of the United Kingdom also need to show, because even though this is not the outcome that almost half of all voters wanted, everyone is now in the same boat and it would be better to work together than trying to petition to reverse and change things again.

Amongst all the angst and trepidation, there is no denying that exciting times are ahead – for some more exciting than others, but thrilling nevertheless. And while I may not have voted, the result interests me all the same.