It’s time to say goodbye. Brexit is upon us. We fought hard to try to persuade you to stay, but your decision is final. You are leaving the house that was your home, and closing the door behind you. Until we meet again, then.
I don’t know whether to be sad, annoyed, or just relieved that you are finally leaving a home that you have willingly tried to disrupt for the last 47 years. I remain confident that we will meet again, however. I’m just not sure about “when” and “how.”
It’s a strange old world, where ephemeral celebrations occult the true reality of a world that is burning under our feet, and a society that is disintegrating before our eyes. But I suppose that you know the world is burning, and are confident that you can fix it by yourself. As for your society, you are convinced that it can fend for itself.
In the mean time, it is your right to want to celebrate Brexit like a teenager who has just turned eighteen and moves out into student digs, the day after his birthday. You have won a referendum in which the question posed was so different from the answer obtained. You have won your independence. You have acquired the right to vote by yourself. You can now invent the colour of your passport, decide which flags fly high on your monuments, and engrave your own words on a coin that doesn’t even have to be round. But the bigger question concerns whether you can really look after yourself by cooking your own food, washing your own clothes, and looking after the garden. Not forgetting the fact that you will have to do the shopping, from now on, with your own money. Good luck, and look after yourself.
Yes, the European Union is not perfect. It is a proud dinosaur in need of urgent medical attention. But you could have been its doctor. As I salvage my freedom of movement from the jaws of the British lion, by holding in my left hand a passport that maintains my European citizenship, whilst hiding in my right, one that I will happily let expire, I dream of what might have been. I dream of a European Union that actually listens to its people, a European Union that cherishes differences whilst, at the same time, reinforcing and preserving what its people have in common.
But the worst of it all, is that you could have changed it. Yes, you. An integral part of the decision-making, you could have had it your way. Why did you not act when you had the chance? Instead, you convinced your people of the supposed malevolence of the monster you helped to create.
I am tempted not to forgive he who wants to flee, and turns his back on ideals by supporting Brexit. I defend European ideals, with all their imperfections. They are ideals that have allowed me to move from a countryside inebriated by the scent of lavender, to one embroidered with the colours of tulips. And I love them both.
But I love you too, because you gave me my first taste of what it means to be human, what it feels like to be alive. I want to give you a chance. You can show me that you were right and I was wrong. You can show the rest of Europe how it is done. We may actually be inspired by your ideas of social justice and economic parity between those who have and those who have not. You can show us what “Global Britain” really means, and how it actually soothes the soul.
As I walk along the dunes, drenched by the colours of the setting sun, the last seagulls return to their nests, and the few remaining dogs to their kennels. It is so peaceful as the evening casts its protective wings upon a country ready to fall asleep. Peace of mind, freedom of thought. But I am thinking about you, my long-lost friend, and how you are searching for a new way forwards, not knowing what lies ahead, and straying from the well-trodden path that leads to the city of lights. I become anxious as the storm clouds gather from beyond the Atlantic, threaten to disturb the North Sea, and suffocate our lost friendship.
The European Union must move forwards without you. Brexit is now a reality. But I am convinced that one day, you will turn around and head back towards us. We will meet somewhere between the white cliffs of Dover and the golden dunes of Scheveningen. Our hands will touch, and we will be one, again.
Tot ziens! Au revoir! Goodbye!