Today the UK leaves the European Union. I thought I would feel angry but instead it’s a deep, deep sadness. I have grown up as a European citizen and appreciated being part of Europe. It felt that the EU was a community of nations who had learnt lessons of the previous century and created a new period of cooperation and collaboration. As with all large organisations it needed ‘fine tuning’ but it was a genuine force for good.
I embraced Europe, I loved languages at school and went on to study French and European politics at uni. I spent an amazing year living and working in France. As a young person I was a beneficiary of many grant and projects funded by the EU.
So many people have benefited from projects funded by the EU. As a teacher we were able to take some pupils from a very deprived area in Cardiff to Crete for a EU project. These children who had never left their town had the world opened up to them and as a consequence had new opportunities to pursue. There have been so many rejuvenation projects in communities, art projects financed by the EU of which we have all benefited, knowingly or unknowingly.
I fear for the UK being out of Europe, a policy of splendid isolation is never effective. We are not the grand nation some think we are and others will be in no rush to work collaboratively with us. I hate the right wing politics that is pervading our society on the back of Brexit, we are becoming intolerant and divisive. One of my proudest British moments was the 2012 Olympics which seemed to showcase the inclusive society we were. I was proud to hang my Union Jack flag outside the house and dress us all in Union Jack tshirts. I would never do that now, sadly the flag has become a symbol of the right wing of our society.
I hope this is a brief sejour from the EU, the younger generation are strongly in favour of the European Union and I feel that when the reality of Brexit affects ordinary people opinions will change further. Europe, thank you for your dignity and friendship in Brexit, please leave a light on for us.