Et tu, Britain.
Friends, Europeans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Britain, not to praise it.
31st January 2020 is Brexit Day.
The spectre of Brexit has loomed over our lives for more than three years now and yet suddenly, heartbreakingly, Brexit is happening.
I am British born but European at heart. Like many others I am from a generation that has only ever lived as part of the European Union. But on 1st February 2020 it will be no more.
I left Britain four years ago and found a new home in Europe. I didn’t leave because I disliked Britain. I left because I could. I left because I could move freely, settle and work in any European country, from the sun kissed Mediterranean coastlines to the snow capped Alpine mountains.
I am from an island that since 1975, has been a part of something bigger than itself. I have felt nothing but welcome on this ‘foreign’ continent, despite the Brexit cloud that hangs over us.
I am ashamed of the current Great Britain. I am ashamed of what the country now stands for. I am ashamed of the people in charge and I feel sorry for the people who voted for them. The ignorance and the lies of ‘Leave means Leave’ will leave a dark smudge in our history books. The idea that being ‘British, born and bred’ is a virtue that elevates a person above anyone else, is based on lies, greed and selfishness. All too often we see videos of people being harassed and abused in the street for their nationality, their race, their religion, their gender or their sexuality. Food banks are thriving, libraries are closing, and there is a shortage of beds in every hospital and a surge of beds in shop doorways. This Great Britain, Boris’s Great Britain, is the antithesis of everything I grew up to believe in. It now feels like a self preservation society of sharp elbows and sharp knees.
I am sad and I am angry. I am British and I am European and I would like to say thank you, thank you to all the people, European or not, who have helped make Europe a home for me. There are so many of us who came to Europe to live, to work, to love, and I am grateful for the open doors I stepped through so easily and ashamed that they are closing behind me.
I appeal to the good and kind British Public to get mad. Get frustrated. Get indignant and then use it for good. Keep making art; paint, write, make music and do not let a country that has lost its reason stop you.
Please bear with me. Please bear with my home country. I hope Brexit Britain will not be as bad as I fear. After all, the noble Boris says Britain is ambitious and Boris is an honourable man.
Union Jack is black acrylic on emergency blanket.