This referendum has struck me as positive in many ways , most of which are being lost in the hysteria and self reproach of the moment. One of the most important of these positive aspects was the process itself. We live in a democratic country and are fortunate and blessed to do that. Over 72% of those eligible to vote in the UK went to the polls in this referendum, which is an outstanding achievement for a country where voting is a right and a responsibility, but not a legal requirement. Those figures also show us that there is something to be said for proportional representation, ie. one person one vote, rather than the current UK system of non proportional representation where many feel disenfranchised with their ability to impact a result. This time everyone felt that their vote mattered, and the turnout supports that.
The second positive is that so many people have embraced change. Normally people shy well away from any change and dig their heels in. This exercise has, for better or worse, connected with something that has made over seventeen million people embrace and welcome change. That is astonishing. Old and young, geographically and ideologically separated, crossing cultural, political and religious lines, seventeen million people voted for change. There can be no question that the people of this nation has spoken, and this result stands: we can but choose to see the positive in that.
Seventeen million people felt secure enough in their situation and their system of governance and their country to dare to vote for change, believing in this country’s ability to forge a new future.. That is inspiring, and is something we need to remind ourselves of at every opportunity during the journey “out” that will now follow this vote.
I came back from Europe almost eight years ago now, and I have consistently found in this country total incomprehension, and hostility, mingled with suspicion about anything EU, so in many ways this result surprises me not in the least. Each and everyone knows in their own hearts whether on balance over years they have praised EU investment or mocked the legislative requirement of brusselsprouts and feta cheese more. I suspect much of the outpouring of recrimination fear and reproach we are seeing now is in fact a realisation that at that particular weighing in, the balance is going to tip one way, and one way only.
And having said that let us tread gently. There are those for whom this result has come as both a surprise and a shock. There are many for whom their life and jobs, their future plans and their very existence has been shaken to the core by this result.
This is a time for generosity with others and with their views, whatever side of the vote we and they sit. We don’t any of us know the future, and the journey ahead is uncertain and almost certainly long. However we each of us are with this outcome - and I am and always will be European, by birth, by vocation, by ideology, by language, by religion and by choice – let us hold fast to the positives of this result and work together to forge a new global platform for the United Kingdom in the world, that better reflects who we are now in the 21st century and who we want to be in the world moving forward into the 22nd century.
We, the people, have considered, and we have spoken. Let us give thanks that we can, and trust to the future.