Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

“I am paralysed by furious helplessness”: Lucy Mangan on feeling like a stranger in the face of a new Britain

GettyImages-542736700.jpg

Stylist columnist Lucy Mangan explains why she wants out, following Britain's ground-breaking vote to leave the EU

I feel like a stranger in my own land. Which is a shame, now that we have just voted ourselves into isolation.

We’re Out. Over 33 million people voted and 51.9% of them came down in favour of leaving the European Union. I’m in the 48.1% minority who wants to stay, but go we must.

I am paralysed by a more intense version of the furious helplessness that has been stealing up on me throughout the referendum campaign.

Lucy Mangan

Stylist columnist Lucy Mangan: "If this is the new Britain we’re in, I’d like out"

It began with the calling of the referendum itself.

David Cameron farmed the question out to us, assuming everyone would vote for the status quo, instead of taking on the Eurosceptics in his own party because he was scared it would cause a split that would force him out of office (pause, obviously, to appreciate the irony here, a few hours after his resignation).

It should never even have been something for us to decide. It’s exactly the kind of thing we elect and pay our politicians for. Investigating constitutional, legal and economic ramifications and deciding what’s best for the country as a whole is very much their job. But no. It was handed off to us by a man too cowardly to pursue his own course.

Leading the Brexit camp: Michael  Gove and Boris Johnson

Leading the Brexit camp: Michael Gove and Boris Johnson

And then the campaigns began. One led by Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, both of whose careers would inevitably prosper in the event of a Leave vote.

In an ideal world, an electoral result is the culmination of two well-fought campaigns arguing facts and figures with each other and an electorate taking a well-informed decision at the end of it, fully appreciative of the possible consequences – good and bad – of whatever change is under consideration.

It is the product of debate, conclusion, information, consideration and whether you agree with the outcome or not, you can take comfort in the rigour of the process. God, imagine that.

The moment of truth

The moment of truth for Remain voters

It never happens, of course, but everything about the referendum has taken us so far from even the usual depredations upon this ideal that the outcome has left many – 48.1% of us, I guess - feeling like we live now in an entirely different country from than the one that existed six months ago.

The campaign led by Nigel Farage - the privately-educated former commodities broker founder member of UKIP, now self-styled ‘man of the people’, and not a member of parliament – infected everything with his toxic brand of “dog-whistle” not-at-all-racism.

This became less “dog” and more “earsplitting” as time went on, as he stood in front of posters purporting to show queues of migrants at our borders (they weren’t) that directly recalled Nazi propaganda and called the murder of Jo Cox by a man shouting “Britain First” (a rabidly anti-foreign-blood group) “unfortunate timing”.

Not every Leaver is racist. I absolutely know this, not least because I am married to a keen Brexiter. But Farage and his ilk preyed on legitimate fears and stoked them with misinformation about all of ‘Them’ coming over here to take ‘Our’ jobs.

UKIP party leader Nigel Farage celebrates EU referendum result

UKIP's Nigel Farage - self-styled ‘man of the people’

And there was no effective counteraction of this. Labour – headed by someone barely fit for leadership purpose anyway and a lifelong Eurosceptic himself who couldn’t bring himself to compromise for the greater good of stanching Farage et al’s poisonous spew – never mustered an effective opposition. Never rebutted a thing effectively. Never managed to organise themselves sufficiently to score even the easiest points.

Meanwhile, the best Cameron’s crew could come up with was Project Fear – trying to scare voters into staying because the future could be worse, instead of coming out with evidence of the peace and prosperity Europe brings, the benefits of immigration, disproving the endless lies pumped out by those with their own, unaccountable agendas.

So, furious helplessness, disgust and panic have been the order of the day for months now.  To that list I am now adding despair.

flag

"We have just voted ourselves into isolation"

Farage’s gamey-smelling anti-authoritarianism fell on fertile ground because so many people have been alienated by politics and deprived of their basic needs and had their jobs threatened by austerity and other government policies. Their vulnerability can be easily exploited and their attention focused on the wrong targets; the EU and/or the people it lets in.

Meanwhile, the people who made people so powerless and frustrated that a leap into the unknown seems more appealing than maintaining the conditions of their current lives, who created the conditions for a rupture whose effects will be felt for generations to come, get off scot-free (resigning to take up a lucrative career on the after-dinner circuit does not count as punishment) or start lining up for even bigger, better jobs in Downing Street.

Fury. Helplessness. Despair. And sadness.

I’m just so, so sad. Not even that it came to this – who knows what leaving’s actual effects might be, though I cast my In vote according to my interpretation of such evidence as I could glean – but that it came to this like this

If this is the new Britain we’re in, I’d like out.

Photos: Getty Images

Related

use.jpg

Stylist's Susan Riley responds to the EU exit

operation-croissant2.jpg

From Paris with love: postcards are handed out to mark EU vote

tinder.jpg

Why this woman used Brexit to find a date on Tinder

GettyImages-528413890.jpg

Courage, not fear: why we’ve fallen in love with Ruth Davidson

catsagainstbrexit.png

Feline campaigners have their say on the EU referendum

iStock_96124031_MEDIUM.jpg

Brexit: we asked Stylist readers which way they’ll be voting

iStock_87742831_MEDIUM.jpg

Stay or go? A beginner’s cheat sheet to the EU referendum

vote.jpg

Why feminists should vote ‘remain’ in the EU referendum

HiRes.jpg

Should we stay in the European Union?

Comments

More

“If you need me, I’ll be in the woods”

Lucy Mangan on the joy of being alone

by Lucy Mangan
01 Mar 2017

Lucy Mangan explains how a tragic event can actually unite us all

“Amidst polarising opinion, we are still united”

by Lucy Mangan
01 Mar 2017

“Brace yourself – it’s time we had the baby chat”

Lucy Mangan on why it’s fine to not want children

by Lucy Mangan
01 Mar 2017

“You can take your heels and...”

Lucy Mangan on the high heels debate

by Lucy Mangan
01 Mar 2017

“All hail the big cosmetic surgery U-turn”

Lucy Mangan on a welcome change in the fashion and beauty industry

by Lucy Mangan
03 Feb 2017

“Without divorce, marriage is doomed”

Lucy Mangan on why the world needs divorce

by Lucy Mangan
01 Feb 2017

Lucy Mangan on the art of saving money

“In debt? Allow me to confiscate your cards”

by Lucy Mangan
15 Jan 2017

Lucy Mangan guides us into the New Year

“So here it is! 2017: a user’s manual”

by Lucy Mangan
01 Jan 2017

Lucy Mangan doles out her annual awards

“And the award for the worst year ever goes to...”

by Lucy Mangan
09 Dec 2016

Lucy Mangan on the hope in the abuse headlines

“The silence that protects people who do terrible things is breaking down”

by Lucy Mangan
05 Dec 2016