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CB24 8TX, UK.

Leaving the EU


Dear Family, Friends, Colleagues and Former Colleagues outside the UK,

We are this weekend trying to come to terms with the decision of the country we live in to leave the EU.  I feel deeply ashamed of what my compatriots have done, and there are many things I want you to know about this:

·        The well-educated and informed people of this country voted overwhelmingly to stay.

·        So did the young people, who will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.

·        So did the people of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire (where I live)

·        So did the people of London.

·        So did the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland and Gibraltar (as you probably know).

·        So did everyone I know – right across the political spectrum from Left to Right.

I know I speak for all these people who voted Remain, when I say that we see this as a victory for ignorance, prejudice and xenophobia.  We have at a single stroke hurt everyone, and in doing so we have alienated most of our friends in the world.

So who did vote to leave?  The answer is overwhelmingly the less well-off and less educated, who it must be admitted have been largely disenfranchised by a political system that has increased inequality significantly over the past decade.  It is largely retirees, who will not have to live with the consequences for too long.  The Leavers sense that there are things that are deeply wrong, and they have voted for change – any change, whatever the consequences. 

You may not have heard that the victorious Leave politicians have already reneged on their key pledges, saying that they never actually promised this:

·        That the country will be £350m/week better off outside the EU

·        That immigration will be reduced

·        That we can take our time over negotiating to leave

·        That any financial instability will only be temporary

It seems likely that Scotland will secede from the UK, in order to stay in the EU.  (There is a precedent for this – Greenland which was technically part of Denmark – left the EU, without putting Denmark’s membership at risk.)  It is not clear what will happen to the fragile stability in Northern Ireland, but it is not likely to be good.  We don’t know who the political leaders will be who will manage the exit for us (but it will probably be those of the broken promises above).  It is not even clear what we will call the country if Scotland leaves – the United Kingdom of England and Wales hardly seems appropriate.

There are undoubtedly many things that do need to change quite fundamentally, and the people of the UK have expressed this.  We must somehow in this turmoil find a way to channel our energy into making those changes happen – even though the challenges are so great – migration, financial stability – that we need to combine our forces to solve them.  It is, to say the least, unfortunate that the people of the UK have taken their anger out on the EU, which will make working together on mapping out a future for us all much more difficult.

It has been said that out of great challenge comes great opportunity.  Today I think we are all holding onto this thought like a life raft in a storm.

I would be pleased to communicate with you about this, as without a common umbrella of the EU, it will be more important than ever for us to keep talking.

Chris Moller, Cambridge, 26June2016.


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