The Real Result of the Referendum

manchester-tram-incidentLast Friday I woke up before the alarm went off and picked up the phone to check the time. Even before having it for certain that it was far too early to get out of bed a news-alert caught my attention. Going back to sleep was unthinkable after that. Seventeen million people in the country I wake up in every day had said no to the European Union. And if on the one hand I had expected it all along, the shock of these news was still big enough to get me running around the house, waking up my equally unwanted EU migrant brother, bellowing: “Brexit! Brexit! Brexit won!” His bewildered response best not printed.

Since that unfortunate day I’ve been getting messages from English friends that all follow similar lines: apologies, long rants, and the perennial question of what I plan to do next. I am Portuguese you see, tens years a Londoner. The power of my labour and the weight of it in taxes never paid anywhere else. My entire adult life lived here. My plan is to ask for British citizenship – if I muster to collect the £1500 for the costs such a plan entails – but, in all honesty, that is not the most important at this stage.

Less than a week since the results were announced and already there’s been a spike of 57 per cent in hate crimes around the country. Social media was filled with gruesome stories of drunken men shouting racist insults, cards with the words “no more Polish vermin” being dropped through Cambridge postboxes and British Asians being told that they would “finally have to go.”

This is the real result of this referendum. Irrespective of individual opinions on the EU’s good and bad attributes, the Brexiters referendum was moved by isolationism, and its cousins xenophobia and racism. Given the events that led to the referendum and the context under which it was conducted, this could have never been a victory for the Eurosceptic left, or even for those who, in my view correctly, object to the undemocratic structure of the European Commission or the mafioso-style pressures exercised by the EU on weaker economies in Africa and the Caribbean under the Economic Partnership Agreements. This was not a referendum for a more democratic United Kingdom, for more sovereignty for those who have the weakest voice in the national political landscape. This was not a referendum favouring those who have suffered the most from pan-European austerity measures. The neoliberal Gordian knot that is the finance-sycophant European Union is still intact.

The sick note dropped through houses in Huntingdon, Cambs. See Masons copy MNBACKLASH: Police are investigating reports of "sick" messages calling Polish people vermin which have been distributed following the UK's decision to leave the EU. The laminated cards which read "Leave the EU, No More Polish Vermin" were discovered by members of the public on Friday morning in Huntingdon, Cambs., an area which where 54.2 per cent backed Brexit and 45.8 per cent voted to stay in the EU. A number of the laminated cards were found near St Peter's School in St Peter's Road, Huntingdon at around 8.30am by a teenager who attends the school.The valid concerns of the British working class about the lack of jobs, the housing crisis, the exponential impoverishment of working families and the cuts to pensions, were explored in this referendum and used as ammunition for the cause of the populist extreme right. Instead of using the opportunity for a debate on some of Britain’s largest national problems, the British political class let bigotry dominate the referendum rhetoric and the results were a reflection of that.

I’m afraid. It’s true, I am. I fear what lies ahead and I fear what’s already here. Both Labour and the Conservatives were divided during the election campaign and are now stuck in civil wars with no end in sight. Prime Minister David Cameron is set to step down, washing his hands off the most complex political process in this country’s history since, perhaps the Baron Wars that led to the signing of the Magna Carta. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn now has to spend his energies on fighting attempts to depose him, Scotland will fight for its right to a new independence referendum and God knows what the future reserves for the rest of “Little Britain”.

But I’m also afraid on the streets, something I have never felt in this decade of UK residency, even in the metropolis that is London. But I fear them today as I watch the news. I fear them when two Polish migrants, father and son, are beaten and left unconscious on the pavement. The work of an “Englishman” they said. I fear them when an American is harassed by a group of teenagers on a Manchester tram, when, not a day had passed since the referendum took place, a friend, a petite woman of colour, British born and bred, is screamed at by a man inches away from her face. I am certainly afraid when my brother sets on his way home alone through the streets of London, in the early hours after a night out.

For now the official result of the referendum does not interest me. Inside or outside the EU Britain continues to be my second home, increased border controls that won’t make a difference. But my second home is not at peace. In fact, it is under state of emergency. And all of us who live here could get injured in the cross fire of the botched revolution they call Brexit.


Poles, French, Italians, European citizens, global citizens: wherever you’re from – Bella is looking for people who want to stay and be part of the new Scotland. Write to us with your story at [email protected]

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  1. Douglas says:

    Obrigado, Joana, e muito ánimo, nao sao sozhinos….

    “Sábio é quem se contenta com o espectáculo do mundo”…
    (Ricardo Reis)

  2. bringiton says:

    Every single person living in these British Isles is a descendant of an immigrant from some point in the past.
    Those politicians who have used xenophobia as a means to an end should be tried for crimes against humanity and certainly never,under any circumstances,allowed anywhere near positions of authority.
    However,it is Little England we are talking about so these things may come to pass.
    Let’s hope Scotland can act as a counterbalance to what is happening south of our border and ensure that everyone who chooses to live here is treated equally and accepted as part of our society.
    The Immigrant Song……Rule Britannia!

    1. Peter says:

      Many bring up immigrants as a rhetorical tool, and that all those who vote leave are racist. The word has been used so often that it has been devalued. If you don’t like black wine gums then you’re racist. Stupidity mixed with smears! The people accused of this think to themselves: ‘I know I’m not racist. All I want is a sensible immigration policy, but they say I am, so I will vote OUT just to annoy them’. And so it has come to pass.

  3. sid says:

    I want total Scottish independence. What’s the point of removing London chains only to get German Handcuffs? I voted to leave the UK in 2014. If we get another independence vote I will not vote to leave the UK only to be controlled by Brussels. I want a Scottish government to have total control of Scotland. I’m a Scottish nationalist. I want a points based system on immigration. I am not an internationalist, I want to trade with the World and Europe. I don’t want to be controlled by Europe. Mrs Sturgeon is certainly no William Wallace.

    1. muttley79 says:

      I hate to break it to you, if you really are a Scottish nationalist (and I have some considerable doubt in believing that you are, but that aside), that the vast majority of Scottish nationalists accept that there is no such thing as complete sovereignty or ‘total Scottish independence’ in your own words. Winnie Ewing did not say ‘stop the world, Scotland wants to get on’ after the Hamilton by-election because she or the SNP believed in isolationism. Your last sentence is simply batshit crazy. You are clearly unaware that the world has changed greatly since the late 13th century, early 14th century, let alone since last week!…

      1. Gerry Fisher says:

        I wish I knew what “the great majority of Scottish nationalists want”, but I don’t believe they think there complete national sovereignty n this or any other century. But I’m with Sid and I’ve only been in the Party 48 years and recently declared an Honorary Life member, unlike Muttley of whom I’ve never heard ! I was in favour of the EEC and the Environmental rules/agreements/ programmes because these were areas where no country, ever . has had sovereignty. But I was never asked to vote In favour of a United States of Europe, being a full fiscal economic and social union of European states – why? Because the “founders” knew that any referendum in most countries would get 10% 0f the votes. Just as they, the elites, have resisted referenda at any point on any proposal, even now blaming Cameron for the whole situation. “Stupid man, wanting to hear the views of the plebs, they should be told by their betters what to agree to” Even my own erstwhile leader was quite clear that a referendum was necessary in 2014, but thinks that one in 2016 was a “mistake”, castigating the idea as does Ken Clark as “government by referenda “- to whit the wishes of the mob.

    2. John Page says:

      A troll?

      1. Crubag says:

        Possibly. But I’d prefer a looser arrangement than the EU straitjacket.

        If EFTA works for the Swiss and Norwegians, I’d prefer Scotland to go that way.

        As for the article, which is the bit that comes first? Denial or grief? But there is a dangerin casting 17 million people as racists (including a third of SNP voters) that it becomes a self-fulfiling prophecy. It was a refusal to talk about immigration that led to the rise of UKIP.

        As for William Wallace, he was always keen to trade with the continent – look at the Lubeck letter.

        1. Alf Baird says:

          Holyrood MSPs are today all harping on about maintaining links with Europe yet they have been unable to provide even a single daily ferry service from Scotland to the Continent. Norway by contrast benefits from half a dozen ferry sailings each and every day day connecting to three different EU states yet Norway is not even an EU member. Reflecting these shipping connections, Norway also has a far better trade position than Scotland.

    3. David Allan says:

      Sid you are not alone I voted leave for reasons surrounding democracy, Public sector , TTiP etc. I also support Scottish Independence and would prefer that following Independence, and the likely new political landscape that will follow, voters in Scotland should then be provided the opportunity to vote on the European opportunities available . Whatever the may be at that time.

      I am firmly opposed to linking a future Independent Scotland to a future in a EU whose direction is not one I favour.

      I am european and internationalist , Independence in Europe as the SNP envisage is not the future I want to see. Post Indy we should not inherit EU membership. We should only then vote for it.

      The next two years plus will bring many opportunities and ideas some which have yet to be explored. I will keep an open mind I wish other Independence supporters would do likewise.

      1. bringiton says:

        It’s only a few days since the people of Scotland were asked about whether they wished to remain in the EU or not.
        As with our own referendum in 2014,unless we are offered terms substantially different from present,there will be little point in asking the question again for the forseeable future.

    4. David says:

      You are NO nationalist mate! You claim to not wish to leave the UK because you do not wish to be part of the EU? Let me tell you something…The EU may not be all that it could be, but what it does allow is the countries that are within its mutual union is there freedom! Something that we do not enjoy under the Brit regime! So you would rather be ruled by the Brits rather than being a Scot having a voice of self determination! We do not have to agree with everything that the EU requests, that is democracy freedom to say no, however we have NO choice with the Brits and their will being imposed upon us, if you want that then you are the preverbial plastic nationalist.

    5. Peter says:

      Good for you!

  4. Big Jock says:

    Good God. Sid displaying that there are Scottish versions of English nationalists. Can’t be many like him surely not.

    Mind you saying you are a Scottish nationalist and then voting to stay in the Uk, because not everything is on your terms. Displays the kind of selfishness we don’t need in Scotland.

  5. Kenny Smith says:

    I’ll be totally honest I voted remain in the hope that Scotland voted in and England left or maybe just kept England in it in the hope of a shit storm like we are in now. Its true I have no real great love for the EU because of TTIP and the treatment of Greece mainly but also because it stops the renationalisation of certain things I believe to be essential to be in public ownership but we have had more social justice from Brussels than we would ever get from Westminster and the EU at least provided some cover from the Tories. I knew England would vote out and be consumed by rabid right wing ideology of the right of the Tory party spurred on by Farage. That alone should be enough to spur most Scots to push for Indy or risk being the shit on the shoe of the most horrible government the UK has ever had the misfortune to have. Also no matter how you voted the split between nations only highlights the democratic deficit, Scotland’s voice completely ignored again. Unionists shrug their shoulders and say that’s democracy but we are not Yorkshire we are a nation in a political union but its more like domination bordering on subjection. Yes I would rather win Indy in some other way then take steps into the EU through the EEA or something but this is our big chance. In one full swoop all the bullshit threats of the Better Together are up in smoke, business, media and non naturalised Scots are more tempted to vote yes if we can stay in the EU. I know the EU is far from perfect but its no coincidence that we are really I’ll informed about what actually goes on there and how it really works. I don’t blame people for being wary about the gift we have been given but bottom line is right now I would take an independent Scotland in the EU every day of the week over being trapped in the chains of the UK and before you get the usual anti English shite I’m not anti English I’m anti Westminster and pro Scottish. The leave campaign slogan was take back control but when Scotland wants control we are slapped down sometimes by our own which is demeaning and hurtful. We are not subsidy junkies we are a proud European nation not just greater England. Let’s give Nicola a chance because I believe she will deliver something that might not be Heaven on Earth for everyone but she will get our country, culture and pride back in our own hands. Yes 2, you better believe it!!

    1. K. A. Mylchreest says:

      TTIP is dead, I believe, vetoed by France.

  6. ScottieDog says:

    Away from the TV screens in the lead up to the referendum I heard some very well reasoned and constructive arguments for walking away from the EU – not that I agreed with them. It was just too much of a gamble to say that we were going to undergo some revolution and push some progressive political force into Downing Street. Indeed it is looking like the gamble has not paid off…

    I do however have serious misgivings about swapping one form of neoliberalism for another. For me Scotland is effectively out of the EU and so one item in the project fear arsenal is neutralised. We are out and had no control over it. That in itself should be enough to push people toward full sovereignty. Should!

    I think we have to be prepared to set out our stall early. That is a sovereign country with a sovereign currency not hamstrung by an ideological policy such as the stability growth pact. For me that has been the very ugly side of the EU which pushed more informed voters towards leave.

    1. David Allan says:

      Over a million leave voters in Scotland and many think exactly like you and I – No representation at Holyrood that’s the problem!

      I hope all of our Politicians bare that in mind.

      Future Independent Scots should have the decision on Europe . A changed Political Landscape would enhance the terms of debate providing Scots with a very real informed choice .

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Good point Dave. Seems that some 90% of Holyrood MSPs were for ‘remain’ which is more representative of their neoliberal middle class mindset than of society as a whole. To the Great Unwashed Masses the ‘target’ here was rather less the posh boy elite than the PC neoliberal middle classes (i.e. most the ‘Establishment’ including the SNP and other mainstream political parties) reflecting disquiet with their specific strategies for ongoing societal re-engineering.

        1. David Allan says:

          Cheers Alf – post indy a new political landscape will see new opinions emerge and the choice at the ballot box will more reflect our wider aspirations. I know you agree that the whole point of escaping the Westminster system is not to create a Scottish copy .

          Many of the million plus Scots who voted leave are Yes Campaigners now without a voice at Holyrood.

          With exception of Jim Sillars the absence of any credible voice articulating the case for leave meant that the Scottish public were starved of adequate information. The scale of remain result in Scotland was influenced by and reflects that fact .

          (No debate on potential repatriation of Agriculture and Fisheries to devolved Scotland, No debate on TTiP Implications, No Debate on Public Sector Tendering, No debate on future direction of EU. No debate on cost of EU membership)

      2. ScottieDog says:

        Looking at SNP’s economic policy in the lead up to the GE last year, that in itself would be incompatible with the ideology of the troika. I think however there are enough YES voters out there who are realising that monetary sovereignty is everything. You just have to compare the fortunes of Greece and Iceland in the aftermath of the GFC to know that the euro isn’t an option.

        1. Gerry Fisher says:

          But what happens to Nicola’s plans if the progenitors of the Project make it a condition of entry that we join the Euro, as well as losing all the other opt-outs that the UK gained – and our share of the rebate from La Thatcher?

  7. David Allan says:

    My comment referred to points made by Kenny Smith.

  8. Ian Kirkwood says:

    Jobs, housing, pensions and other social and economic issues may be solved by any country willing to ditch taxes on jobs, housing and enterprise. Is it necessary to point out that such taxes repress the areas to which they are applied? That Income taxes for example, reduce jobs? We only accept this economic self harm because we are educated to assume there are no other options.

    But our ‘educators’ know different: A tax on land rents, even at 100% will not reduce the amount of land by one square millimetre.

    AGR/LVT is the way ahead, freeing up the engine of enterprise wherever it is adopted (e.g. Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong) and leaving taxed economies eating their dust. See

  9. Derek says:

    I live in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is multicultural, and has been that way for a long time thanks to its universities which attract students and staff from all over the world; thanks to repeated surges of immigration from Europe and beyond, dating a long way back.
    Edinburgh has a strong Italian community, dating back a hundred years or more. Let me stereotype by saying there are excellent cafes and restaurants run by Italians, but in fact they’re Scottish or British and have been here for generations.
    Don’t forget the first Polish influx was during the Second World War when free polish airmen came to Scotland. My father, who was in the RAF, met some of them at Turnhouse and Drem. Many stayed after the war; no surprise then that more recent immigrants might choose Edinburgh.
    There are lots of Indian, Pakistani and other immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent. There’s also a strong Sikh community based around Leith, Tony Singh’s family being an example. I wonder: does Tony consider himself as Scottish or north Indian?
    I’ve got to know a few of them over the last few years. They are people who work hard and fit well into the community. They are contributors, not consumers.
    And that’s not to mention French, Spanish, and Portuguese including the da Silvas and friends who run the superb Casa Amiga on Leith Walk.
    Has Edinburgh stopped being ‘Scottish’ as a result? You must be joking. As far as I’m concerned they’re all welcome, and they add richness to our lives. Long may they continue to do so.
    I’m not a great Morning Star reader, Joana, but I respect your contributions to political debate.

  10. David Allan says:

    Derek Thankfully many Scots would agree with your remarks. Immigrants from all backgrounds are most welcome to all parts of Scotland.
    I always recognise that many of Scots Emigrants throughout our history have been made welcome in countries all over the world.

  11. Tregaron says:

    Am I the only one who finds it somewhat ironic that the UK effectively voted against immigration, when the UK itself has invaded, conquered, settled numerous other countries and imposed its will on them without asking the native people if that is actually what they wanted.

  12. Derek says:

    Tregaron, you could equally question the Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italians, Germans each country having ‘won’ and lost an empire through force of arms. Or Turkey as the origin of the Ottoman Empire; or the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And that’s not to mention the extermination of Native peoples in Australia or America, slavery of black people, the blame for which lies not just on the shoulders of white europeans but on Africans themselves and Arabs.
    Irony isn’t really a strong enough term, is it?

    1. Tregaron says:

      @Derek: Oh, but I do. Just not with the last post, as those other countries did not just vote to leave the EU based on “controlling immigration.
      I could also go on:
      UK citizens living outside the UK, but within the EU being denied their vote.
      EU citizens living in the UK not being allowed to vote.
      English immigrants into Wales (and Scotland), being allowed to vote, and in the case of Wales actually swaying the vote. Take Llandudno as a classic example. Victorian holiday resort. Population: 20.701; Persons born in Wales: 10.517. Was it the Welsh who voted? Or the “immigrants”?

  13. Broadbield says:

    Joana, what can I say? Thanks for your contribution. We go to Spain in the winter. Several friends spend a lot of time in Portugal. In both countries we are welcomed without reservation by friendly, generous people. I hope, before too long, you will see that side of UK citizens once again.

    1. Peter says:

      I worked in Spain for 2 years and Bavaria for 10 I too have many foreign friends, but I don’t want to be member of a mainly Franco-Germanic autocracy. Many other countries’ citizens don’t either.

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