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“Yes, we're scared but cannot resign ourselves”: Stylist's Susan Riley responds to the EU exit

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Susan Riley
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Stylist's deputy editor Susan Riley reacts to a devastating night for Remain voters

I’m speechless. My train carriage was speechless (not that the 8.27 from Cobham is one for chat but this morning's commute was particularly sombre).

The Stylist office is sitting here, speechless. Aren’t we all? Even those who cast their remain vote as an act of rebellion or frustration must surely be too. 

Because HOW is this even happening? Right now, all I can think is wouldn’t it be brilliant if Donald Trump were voted in. Then at least we’d all be certain that the entirety of 2016 was just some monumentally bad dream and that, soon, we must surely wake up.

Yesterday I was due to fly to Nantes at 8am to join the Stylist team making an issue in France (oh, the irony).

David Cameron announces his resignation

David Cameron announces his resignation in wake of the Brexit vote

My flight was cancelled, then the trains back into London were delayed due to flooding on the tracks; it seemed like the end of the world. Now? Now I’d voluntarily sit at Gatwick airport for days, weeks, if we could only reverse the decision that’s just been made. Or rather, imposed.

Because that is what it feels like; democracy suddenly feels rather stifling.  

From the moment I woke up and saw Nigel Farage’s beaming face (it was all a bit Toad of Toad Hall at the wheel of a shiny motor car), my chest has been feeling constricted. And then when I dropped my daughter off at nursery, another mum had tears in her eyes and started apologising for being upset. Well don’t be. Be upset. It’s one of the most upsetting things.

Nigel Farage

UKIP leader Nigel Farage celebrates the Brexit vote

This decision is shaming to a nation we have always been proud to boast of as progressive. But – and this is aside from the tanking pound, withdrawal of crucial funding, and restrictions on our movements and opportunities – how we can we argue that now? Out in that big, wide wonderful world of ours, how can we even debate with integrity? The same world that, this morning, must be bemused and disappointed with every last one of us.

I realise we weren’t doing political cartwheels before, but we were happy with our place in the world. Weren’t we? And now that’s uncertain too. Today’s result was apparently down to the will of ‘real people, ordinary people’. But this much I know: all the real and ordinary people I know are sad, disillusioned and scared.

Distraught Remain campaigners

Distraught Remain campaigners

It’s difficult to see a satisfying way forward. How those that voted leave can resurrect something worthy of the sacrifice. How ‘remain’ voters – that’s half of us, probably many more however close the ballots – can happily remain in a country that we feel no longer represents us, our sentiments and the way we want to live. But we can’t do a Cameron. We cannot resign ourselves.

So let's not apologise for being upset. Be loud in your bewilderment. Passionately decry the ideology that got us here. Assure friends and colleagues that we can, somehow, turn this around. As intelligent, working, urban women, we have a powerful voice – and right now the whole world needs to hear it.

Photos: Rex Features/Getty Images

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