On Thursday roughly a quarter of people in the UK voted to leave the EU. Roughly a quarter voted to stay. A quarter who could have voted didn’t and a quarter living here were unable to vote because they were too young or not eligible for other reasons.
Where are we now?
On Friday, the prime minister resigned. That probably means that the formal process to leave the EU can’t start until we have a new one, maybe in October. We are in limbo.
Later on Friday and on Saturday, we started getting better explanations from the media about what ‘Leave’ actually means. Why didn’t we get these explanations before we voted? I don’t know, but that’s history.
Also history is that by Saturday morning over a million people had signed a petition asking our MPs to change the rules on the referendum to make remaining in the EU more likely. People were continuing to sign it at a rate of over 2000 a minute.
We have millions of people jubilant that we will leave, but concerned that we aren’t yet, and some who voted leave now worried that we might. We have millions of people mourning our changed relationship with the EU, the falling pound and worried about what the future holds. We have people who’ve lived here for years, even born here, now feeling unwelcome in the country they think of as home.
What many thought of as a process to empower people has left us feeling disempowered and broken. People in Scotland, Northern Ireland and London are talking about going it alone.
It’s early days, but what should we learn?
Three things are important to me just now:
- That we treat each other with respect and understanding whatever our backgrounds or how we voted. Most people are not happy at the moment. We need to be gentle with each other.
- For the UK to have a voting system that means everyone’s vote counts, for both local and national elections. If we trust the system, we should be more trusting of those elected to represent us.
- For schools to teach more about how decisions are taken in the UK, and crucially how to get involved and influence them. We should have done this decades ago, but starting now is better than never.