I’ve woken up this morning to a country I don’t recognise, my love. One which has voted to leave the European Union in the belief it can be better outside. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement but an even more overwhelming emotion is the worry about the world you, my less-than 18-month-old daughter, will grow up in.
Our generation should be ashamed of how the campaign was wagered . Neither side showered itself in glory and for that, my love, I apologise. It was undignified and not worthy or respectful of you, the very youngest in our society for whom we have responsibility.
Facts were sparse and fear was rampant. That’s not to say the majority who voted to leave are necessarily ‘wrong’. Perhaps they have been feeling for years the way I feel today – that the world just doesn’t feel right, they don’t get it, it doesn’t take account of, look after or benefit them. I feel as if I’m living in an alien country today and the feeling is terribly unnerving. I’ve only been dealing with it for a few hours and it is horrid. I wouldn’t like to live my whole life like it but perhaps just more than half our country has been – and now they’ve spoken.
I hope, for you my darling, that if what is deemed as a problem with immigration is solved that it doesn’t lead to us being an unwelcome, inhospitable and intolerant country. I don’t want that for you. We’ve already taken away from you the opportunity to freely work in 27 other countries without any barriers other than being good enough to get a job – I hope you don’t grow up in a bitter, inward looking nation that fears difference. Or worse still, a world where more nations have adopted an insular stance which focuses only on the self and ignores the plights of others in need.
I also hope that if the majority who have voted to leave did so because of the economy that conditions for all are improved. It’s clearly naive to suggest things as they stand now work for everyone but those campaigning to leave the EU have painted a picture of a much more prosperous country. I hope such a thing is delivered – especially as most of the people who voted to leave will likely not be here in 30-40 years’ time. Age played a major part in this referendum, my darling. It’s often said we should listen to our elders. Let’s hope they’re right as they have spoken.
I also now worry about your long-term prospects. Data released just the other day showed it was the flow of immigrants which helped bolster the numbers of those in their 20s and 30s in the UK. People in such age groups make up large parts of the working population and thus pay taxes, which helps support the retired population. Without the inflow of working-age migrants, our population is ageing. The natural growth rate – which ignores migration – was at its lowest in 10 years. This could well put greater burden on the future working population and we have, potentially, made it worse for that sector of society – meaning you, my darling.
I just hope, with all my heart, when you look back at this outpouring in 20 years’ time you’ll ask me what all the fuss was about.