It’s mid afternoon on a glorious hot day on our camp site in the Provence. A mild version of the Mistral has just got up to refresh body and soul and everyone seems to be at peace. The ones wandering around with long faces are the Brits. Not the French. Not the Dutch. Not the Belgians. And not the Germans.
It ‘s difficult to understand how the collective British decision to cut themselves off from the EU could have happened when you ‘re sitting here, singing in the camp choir or good-humouredly cheering on your national football team along with other English Francophiles. For which ever way you look at it, the decision of the British voters has been to turn their backs on their fellow Europeans.
One of the greatest tasks of the EU is to maintain peace in Europe. One of the ways this has been achieved is by the contribution of the more affluent and stable states to the financial stability of poorer economies. The idea of profiting from this stability without actually contributing to it, leaving the burden to other European member countries, is like using the Tube without having payed for a ticket. (As a taxpayer in one of these “other” European countries, I do resent this attitude a little bit.)
Most of the English campers I have spoken to here are still in a state of shock, asking themselves how so many English voters, many of whom include family members and close friends, could have plunged the country into a fully unpredictable future. Or, even worse in my opinion, not accepted their responsibility to cast a vote at all.
But the once red-haired man I met in the shower block dumb-founded me completely. “I voted to leave”, he said. I dared to remark that he might just have made a bad decision. “Well!” he retorted.”We’ve been pushed and told so many lies by the press and our politicians”. Now savour this remark, if you are taking the trouble to read this. Here we have a man of about sixty something admitting that he has just voted to leave the EU knowing full well that he has been manipulated and even lied to. How many other voters have done the same? How many Brits are so screwed up that they have WILLINGLY listened to lies and WILLINGLY been led astray by what they know is emotional bullshit?
I believe a petition to have a second referendum is under way and am both astonished and concerned. What sort of a solution is that supposed to be? Since when do decent Europeans reject a democratic decision just like that? Are we to continue to chop and change the rules until we have conjured up the “right” solution? No. The British people, their press and the representatives of the political parties have all had their say and a fair chance and now we’re back to the question of responsibility. Modern man has to learn to appreciate what his forefathers were proud to have achieved: democracy. Which is not only a privilege but also a responsibility. And definitely not something to be rubbed out and improved when you discover someone has blundered.
A decision has been made. This is no time for anger and there is no time for lengthy preamble. The British people need to recover from their shock and calm down after the obvious jubilation of people who have no idea where this new path will lead to. And the EU, with its far from perfect, far too bulky systems and its disappointing, somewhat pathetic image, must stop scratching its head in disbelief and start reforming from within.
I hope my despondency and worries about England’s future are unwarranted. In most unpredictable situations, SOME good does usually surface. And hey! here, at least, the sun is still shining and our cloudless sky is almost the colour of the lavender that is beginning to flower.