Sarah Bedwell is an Aussie teaching English and other things in the north west of England. She loves using technology in new ways to engage and excite learning, though she does believe in pedagogy before technology. Sarah is currently the ‘Lead Learner for Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Learning’ – otherwise known as an eLearning Coordinator.
I am so very angry, and so very disappointed at this referendum result. I’m not angry at the people who voted Leave. I’m quite certain a large proportion of those people made an educated decision and I respect their democratic right to do so. I’m really, really angry at those who ran the Leave campaign and who capitalised on people’s fear and who encouraged a xenophobic view of the world. I’m also really angry and disappointed that the Remain campaign just didn’t do enough to counter the claims being made throughout the run up to the referendum.
The result of this referendum have left me shaking my head. Boris Johnson has said that this decision does not mean that the UK will be anything less than outward-looking. Really? With a crashing pound, a massive emphasis on migration and little else and something of a rudderless government and opposition, there seems to be little choice but to look inwards for the foreseeable future. Within hours of the result being declared, Nigel Farage had backflipped, u-turned or whatever the appropriate phrase of the day is, on the most headline-grabbing promise of the Leave campaign: that the money spent on contributions to the EU would go to the NHS. There’s claims from the Leave campaign that, actually, despite what they harped on about for weeks, leaving the EU won’t really impact immigration. Why didn’t the Remain campaign pursue this more strongly and persistently during the campaign? I know there were token arguments against, but even watching the debate at Wembley the other night, their arguments against the Leave side were more about ‘Project Fear’ than about using cold, hard facts to convince the electorate.
I’m an immigrant. I make no excuses and I make no apologies for that. I came to the UK in 2007 from Australia. I have a British passport as I have dual citizenship – my father was born here and his/my family still live here. I still speak with an Australian accent and I still think with an Australian slant on things.
I’ve had a lot of conversations today about the referendum result with both staff and students. The students have been really quite brilliant about it, wondering what this means for the country and for their futures, and in some cases wondering if that means I’ll be sent back to Australia and being a little bit concerned by that. We’ve also spent a lot of time discussing democracy. I may not like the result that we got, but I respect the fact that it came about by a democratic process with an extraordinary turnout. If the decision had been left to the politicians – who, lets face it, don’t always have the desires of their constituents at heart – we’d be arguing that the process was undemocratic.
What really disappoints me is that the result means that there are more questions than answers, and yet more fear. A quick scroll through my Twitter feed this morning highlighted several things, the biggest of which is the uncertainty that now plagues migrants already in the UK. From the primary teacher with Polish students who were in tears at the thought of being sent away from the life they know, to the British man worried that his European partner would eventually be deported as she doesn’t have British citizenship, these are real fears, however unfounded or however much time may pass before such decisions are made.
As an immigrant myself, it worries me that the clear message being sent by this result is that I’m no longer welcome here. I don’t mean by my friends and colleagues, but by the community I live in and the community I work in – both of those voted roughly 2:1 to leave the EU. I’ve encountered racism here before. I was once blocked in by some EDL protestors and ranted at for some time about immigrants needing to be deported (not their vocabulary choices but this is not the place for the kind of language they used). It worries me that things will get worse for me and for the children I teach who don’t look or sound ‘British’. It worries me that we are potentially facing a future with Boris Johnson, Michael Gove or even Nigel Farage (who could defect to the Conservatives seeing as UKIP is now somewhat defunct) as Prime Minister. If you think that’s unlikely, I have two things to say: Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump. It worries me that there is no clear plan to move us forward; that with the financial markets crashing and the far right parties across Europe and probably the rest of the world celebrating our decision, that things are going to get a whole lot worse before there’s any seed of hope of things getting better.