This is Ben from Swindon, who voted Leave in 2016, on the reasons he has now decided to get involved in the People’s Vote campaign for a vote on the Brexit deal.
Growing up, my family were always going on about how immigrants are to blame for many things wrong in this country. I would hear things like “There are too many of them”, “There isn’t enough space in this country”, “British people should get homes and healthcare before them, they just come here for our benefits” and many more comments with this theme. I took on those views, I was conditioned to think them.
Leading up to the vote, I remember the government leaflet coming through my door. I didn’t bother to read it as it was “project fear” anyway, I remember laughing and throwing it in the bin. “We don’t need the EU to trade, we can do deals with the rest of the world instead. Also, two weeks to get a doctor’s appointment! Less immigrants would make that faster, that’s for sure!” I thought.
I took my limited intake of information in relation to the vote from a certain Daniel Hannan on YouTube... The way he spoke about leaving the EU seemed plausible and fed into my view. I think we can all see now how he has re-written history of what he was saying himself at the time.
So, I went into the voting booth that day and put my X in the Leave box. For some reason, I had this odd feeling of ‘Did I do the right thing?’ I also remember thinking ‘Leave won’t win anyway, but it should give David Cameron and the EU a shock’. Why did I even think that? I still don’t know.
Then the referendum result came in and I was shocked. Just writing this makes me feel really stupid as I voted for it! Maybe I am stupid?
Since the vote, I have been watching it all unfold and the sheer amount of information that has come out since is staggering. How was I or the average person supposed to know about EURATOM, European medicines agency, the inner workings of the EU, our role in it, ERASMUS, Galileo, WTO, schedules, tarrifs, origin of manufacturing... How OUR OWN government can insist that EU nationals be deported if they are not self-sufficient after 3 months but they simply don’t enforce it! So many things I honestly didn’t know about and many more!
I can now see that it is NOT the fault of immigrants that there is a housing shortage or long NHS wait times. I can now see that it is OUR OWN government that is to blame, over many years, that the NHS is in the state it is and places like Sunderland and all the other old industrial towns have been left to rot. Nothing to do with the EU at all! And trade, well, I can now see it will be almost suicidal if we become a third country overnight by crashing out.
Now, here comes the worst bit for me personally. My wife was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and admitted to hospital for two weeks. My daughter was born two months early, weighing 2.4 pounds, and spent two months in the Special Care Baby Unit. She was kept alive by not only British doctors and nurses but EU ones too. I remember one, Andrea. He was a male nurse and he worked 13 hours overnight, went home for a short rest then did a day shift. He helped keep my baby alive with his dedication and compassion and I will always be grateful to him and all the other staff. They are under serious stress doing a job where the wrong choice could mean death.
And I voted Leave. I voted to make their life even more stressful. I voted to make them feel unwelcome. What does that make me feel? I feel awfully guilty my vote did this to Andrea and all the others nurses in the NHS and beyond.
I am desperate to change my vote now as my eyes have been opened to the hate peddled by the media and some politicians. It is just a shame they may have been opened too late.
For all the reasons above I am now getting involved in campaigning for a vote on the Brexit deal with the hope to stop Brexit.🔷
By Ben Fiocca.
Twitter / Ben Fiocca
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(This is an original piece, first published by the author in PoliticsMeansPolitics.com)