My first reaction to the Brexit decision was to write this to my friends: “Goodbye United Kingdom, you will tear yourself to pieces. Goodbye Great Britain, you will lose your influence and power. The Titanic has hit the iceberg. The "Vote Leave Orchestra" is now on deck playing the songs of opportunity and freedom, which will ring in your ears as you contemplate drowning.”
I have seen lots of comments from people who talk about “not crying over spilt milk” or to “stop being a sore loser”, which continues to reflect a lack of understanding about the seismic damage that has already been done to the UK’s reputation.
"Racing towards a structural recession"
In economic terms, the early indicators show that Britain is racing towards a structural recession. Investment decisions are being halted, financial markets have been hammered and clever money is finding a new home. Job losses will surely follow.
Something like 300 year’s worth of EU membership fees have been lost to the British economy in the last days. The British public received no new hospitals for that money and have now found out that the leaders of the Brexit campaign have no plans for moving forward, having launched the country into unprecedented chaos.
"UK population increasingly polarised"
The UK population is becoming increasingly polarised. Half of people know they have been lied to and fed fantastical promises and worry about the future.
The other half are celebrating their victory and all the control the country has gained (although they can’t put in to words what that control actually is!). One very noticeable change that has happened since the referendum, has been a significant increase in racial attacks, with non-white woman taking the brunt of this intolerant aggression.
"Spectacularly dangerous times"
This all leaves me deeply saddened because I realise that poor people will be the first to feel the tsunami of economic pain heading to UK shores. The uneducated will grow more ignorant and be attracted to extremist solutions. Wise people will certainly recognise that the seeds for fascism have been planted and that none of us can be complacent about the threat of war in Europe; it grows when it is not resisted.
The UK has flirted with American neo-liberal politics for 30 years and this has created an increasingly polarised society. In my mind, the only possible hope is for a new centrist political party to emerge, on a platform to ensure that the UK stays together, and is fully committed to being good and humble EU members.
Only a new general election mandate can overturn the crazy things that have happened. This sounds exaggerated as a solution but these are spectacularly dangerous times, for all of Europe I think.
"I feel genuinely ashamed"
For myself, there is lots of uncertainty and I have already visited my Gemeente to discuss taking Belgian nationality. I have always considered myself to be European first, British second.
I hope my European friends will continue to be generous to the British and help us climb out of this mess we’ve created. I feel genuinely ashamed.
Richard Cross, who runs a risk consultancy in Belgium, arrived in Belgium in the summer of 2000 "when the country was co-hosting the Euro2000 Football Championship and according to the news back then, to be English was the same thing as being a "hooligan". I think I have been a well behaved citizen and in my heart I feel European first and British second."
Click on the video below to hear Richard's speech before the referendum