24/06/2016

The UK today is like a newborn baby, learning once again how to hold its own head up

Let's not panic, everyone.  I think that needs to be a key message this morning.

We can't run before we can walk.  When a newborn baby is born, it takes a while to hold its own head up but, in time, that newborn baby grows into someone who can run marathons and climb mountains.   We don't write off that newborn baby because it can't do everything straight away.  Today, we are that newborn baby.  Today, we are learning how to hold our own head up.  Next month, we will learn how to sit up.  By September, we might start talking.  Christmas and we may be taking our first steps.  It'll be a slow process, but one I am sure we can see through.

With that in mind, let's not turn on each other.  I'm seeing far too much of that on my social media timelines this morning.

Today is going to go down in history because of the enormity of the decision that has been made by the majority of those who cast their vote.  It doesn't need to go down in history because the population was divided and started in-fighting.  Yes, it was a slim majority, but a majority nonetheless.

If the overall decision is not the one you voted for, or preferred, then we must remember we aren't always going to agree on everything.  The world would be an incredibly boring place if everyone had the same opinion.  If everyone supported the same football team, if everyone only liked watching Coronation Street, if everyone shared the same political beliefs the world would be boring.  Diversity is what makes us all interesting.

Unfortunately, the leave campaign seemed to dwell too much on the immigration aspect.  But that doesn't mean that those who voted to leave are racist.  It doesn't mean those who voted to remain are sympathisers.

Everyone, no matter what their beliefs, is entitled to hold them.

I do feel a bit uneasy this morning, but I also feel quite intrigued.  We are entering into the unknown now, and that is a bit scary.  But it is also interesting to see what will happen next.  This move is unprecedented, it will go down in British and world history.  And change isn't always a bad thing, let's remember that.  When you want to progress in your career, you sometimes take a leap into the unknown to better yourself.  That's kind of like what we have done here.

People will move to a completely new part of country, with no guarantee of a job when they get there, to pursue a career they are passionate about.  It's not easy for them at first, they may struggle to maintain the lifestyle they were previously accustomed to, but eventually they will find their feet and all will be fine.

There is no need for us all to be sat in fear and panicking, because that will make things worse.  We should be hopeful, looking to a new future.  The nation has decided, they've said we want to leave.  We need to have faith in our electorate and in our decision.  It might not be a decision that is popular, but it was the decision of the majority.

For the first time in any election since I've been eligible to vote, I couldn't make my mind up.  I still went to the polling booth and pondered my decision for some time, swaying back and forth. In the end, I spoiled my ballot because I literally couldn't decide.  Initially, when the referendum was first announced, I was leave.  As it went on, and each side changed from campaigning to scaremongering, I was terrified to vote either way.  I was toying with going with those who said 'if unsure, vote remain', but I couldn't categorically say I agreed with the remain campaign.  I can see the benefits, of course I can, but I can also see a lot of issues with our EU membership.

There's no point me tying myself up in knots about it again, it's over now.  Selby, where I live, was not enormously close.  So, had I voted to remain, it wouldn't have changed things.  I think if it had, then I may have felt a bit guilty this morning.  As it happened, I was among the 33 who spoilt their ballot in Selby.  30,532 voted to leave, while 21,071 voted to stay.

Someone asked me why I bothered going to vote if I was going to spoil it.  He said that Emmeline Pankhurst wouldn't have been happy that I spoiled my ballot.  Maybe she wouldn't, unfortunately we can't ask her.  But women didn't fight for the right for us to vote to pick sides, they fought so we could have a say and stand up and be counted.  Even if you don't agree, don't understand, or don't really care - you should still go and vote.

A vote is something if which not used - whether it is to spoil it or cast it - can be lost.  Nobody would have known I spoiled my ballot if I didn't tell anyone.  There wouldn't be a black mark next to my name.  I wouldn't be hung, drawn and quartered in the middle of town and banned from ever voting again.  But it would show that I turned out, and I exercised my right to have a say.  My say, however, was that I didn't know.  I didn't want to associate myself with either argument given their nasty, scaremongering techniques throughout.

I could have taken the 'safe' option and remained, but why should I vote for something I'm not 100% in agreement of just because it is deemed the 'safer' option?  As I said, David Cameron would not have called for a referendum on our EU membership if something didn't need fixing.  And he would not have allowed it to go ahead if he knew the country was going to implode if we voted to leave.  If David Cameron had backed Brexit, I'm pretty sure today would be a national holiday - there'd be bunting everywhere, dancing in the street, the pound would be soaring, the markets would be booming.  Actually, saying that, if he'd backed Brexit we would probably have stayed.  I get the feeling many voted out purely because he was backing staying in.  But that's a whole different argument.

I think the main message this morning from the media needs to be to keep calm.  Stop panicking.  Stop working everyone up into a frenzy.  The world isn't ending.

We don't yet need to start panic buying prosecco and Milky Way Magic Stars (which, according to Facebook, can't be sold outside the EU - who knew?!)  We don't need to start hiding our money under the bed, or look at fleeing the country.

The world is still turning.  When I woke up this morning, my house was in the same place as when I went to sleep.  Nothing has changed to the naked eye.

Yes, the markets have suffered - but we knew that would happen if we voted to leave.

The markets bet on the outcome of things like this, and they got it wrong.  It's too soon to panic that the economy is finished, though.  It is likely we will enter into a period which will see the economy slow down, there is so much uncertainty around.  But we can recover, it is not the end of the world.

Sometimes you have to go through rough times to get to better.  At the end of the day, we've voted out now and we need to deal with the repercussions that comes with that.  We're a strong nation of natural-born fighters.  We can get through this.  As the famous wartime poster says, 'Keep Calm and Carry On'.  This could not be more apt right now.  Negativity won't help us move forward and it certainly won't catapult us out of this unknown area that we find ourselves in at the present moment.

We need pick ourselves back up and epitomise the British bulldog spirit.  We must pull together, regain our positivity and show that we are a strong nation which can stand on its own two feet.

You may also like: Today's Brexit result vs the Pop Idol final of 2002

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