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Saturday, 25 June 2016

Brexit : An Irish and European Citizen's View

I feel so strongly about yesterday's Brexit result that I couldn't not say anything. I am so bitterly disappointed that the UK has made this decision and as an EU citizen I feel slightly betrayed and isolated. This choice was not about politics or political parties, it was about what the British people stand for. The EU is fundamentally about coming together for a common purpose, peace and unity. Admittedly flawed, the U.K. has abandoned the hope, collaboration and security that we all embrace as EU members.

The key issue during the debate was immigration, would it be wrong to think that a vote to leave is bigoted and racist, that is not for me to say. This result does however show evidence that instead of embracing diversity Britain appears to be clinging to its xenophobic colonial past, a rather unsettling thought in today's world. In terms of the immigrant issue, I’m not sure the British people realise just how much immigrants contribute to their society but that argument is for another day. Fundamentally we are all citizens of the world and I feel incredibly disappointed that the UK can turn away from people who are just looking for a better life. Every country in this world has responsibilities and it seems Britain is walking away from theirs. A huge step backwards for humanity?

It is also important to note that under the Dublin Regulation migrants who arrive in the EU are only allowed to claim asylum in the country they first land in, if they claim in another member state they can be deported and the UK does deport more than 1000 of these migrants each year under this regulation. By pulling out of the EU the UK is also leaving this agreement.

Not just from an Irish perspective do I think this is the wrong decision. I don't think that many of the leave voters quite understand what they have done. Beyond Migration there are many more important issues that were barely discussed.  As a speaker at the Innovation Union 2020 Conference in 2013 in Brussels I understand the loss that will be the Horizon 2020 programme for UK researchers and educational facilities. I honestly believe by cutting themselves off from the EU they are in a sense plunging themselves back into the dark ages. Horizon 2020 is a fund for research and innovation within the EU of over 80 billion euro. At the conference I spoke about the importance of these funds going to the next generation of Scientists and Entrepreneurs, I fear the UK have robbed these opportunities from their youth.

As a citizen of Ireland, a truly free and independent Republic I understand and sympathise with the leave voters who believed this referendum was a vote for freedom and sovereignty. It’s fair to say that there was spin from both sides of the debate but this propaganda from the leave campaign is despicable and I deeply regret that people have been duped. The EU may dictate certain laws and you could possibility go as far as to say that in areas like defense it infringes on Sovereignty. However in the globalized world we live in today it is important for us to work together with other countries in order to flourish economically. I fear a UK intent on isolation from the EU is only undermining themselves.

When the UK voted to leave they fully accepted the inevitable damage to their economy. What would be wrong would be for them to drag this Brexit out. It would be incredibly unjust to hold the economies of the rest of the EU to ransom. If you're going to leave do it quickly and initiate article 50 ASAP. To quote JK Rowling, "the cheating man shocked he can't stay in the spare room for 2 years while he sorts himself out".


All of that being said, the British people have spoken and we must respect their decision. I do hope for the best for the UK after Brexit and I hope that strong collaboration and stability between the UK and Ireland will continue. However it is important for us to remember that 16 million British people did vote to remain………..
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