I was at Glastonbury when I heard the results of the EU referendum, undertaking an attempt to recapture my youth. On the night of the result, I was woken up at three in the morning by the group of lads in the next tent. All I got was a gasp and then a loud ‘Well that’s us f*cked then!’ It was this sentiment that filled Glastonbury the next day. Thousands of people, all in a state of shock and horror. The only similar reaction I’ve seen is after a relationship breakup. And this feels like what happened in 2016, and we have been mourning that breakup since then.
You can’t deny that all of the classic signs of grief have been there. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. How many of us didn’t want to believe the result was correct. We said the public had been lied to. It was the Russians fault or that stupid red bus, anything to deny that the majority had voted against us.
We then got angry. Thousands of us descended onto parliament, demanding they take the result back. We wore our ‘B*llocks to Brexit’ t-shirts with pride.
Then we calmed down, and waited for the new parliament to bargain our way back with either a soft Brexit of a 2nd referendum. But the country hadn’t changed its mind enough, and after the 12th December it was clear any bargaining was over.
This then led us into deep depression. And why wouldn’t you feel so depressed? When the public votes against your party, it’s like the nation is rejecting who you are as a person. So now we have to take the hardest step of all, move on and into the acceptance stage. We have to accept that the country has confirmed their choice with Brexit. I know this can be hard when you feel rejected, but we have to learn to not take it personally. The ultimate reality of politics and democracy is sometimes the other people win.
We could also see this as an opportunity to find a new partner. Download the old tinder app, and start swiping right. There are so many causes that still need our attention, all of which have been forgotten about for the last 3 years. And with unknown consequences of the COVID-19 crisis means these will be so more important. Maybe it is even time we started enjoying being single for a while. Instead of defining ourselves over a single issue, let’s start playing the field with issues that are just as deserving our attention.
But you never know, in a few years’ time, we may get a phone call from the EU, just wanting a chat. We may go for a coffee, nothing serious, just reminiscing the old times. Maybe old feelings bubble to the surface, and both of us start thinking about that most dangerous of questions for ex-lovers… what if?
Stuart is a columnist for Liberal Base and Tweets @stueybourne.