The fascinating story of Andy, from Staffordshire. He was 14 at the time of the EU referendum and wanted the UK to leave the EU until recently. Prepared to change his position based on new information, he has now become a Remainer Now.
First published in August 2019.
I thought I would best share and get this out there to show how varied the #RemainerNow movement is, plus giving my reasons for wanting the UK to leave the EU, and how I since changed my mind.
My political journey, like so many others’, begins in 2016. I was 14, and before then I couldn’t give a damn about politics, but I knew I didn’t like the Tories or their policies.
I was fascinated by the referendum though. I absolutely was. In English, we had to do a Speaking and Listening exam for our GCSE (I was in year 9 at that point, so they were getting it done early). My teacher suggested multiple potential topics for us to do, and the referendum was one.
I decided I would try my hand at a balanced argument around it, but concluding that I believed leaving was the best option. At the time I thought I managed it quite well. Looking back on my notes, I can see I was horribly biased in my research on the matter.
In a nutshell: I believed that the EU had too much power and was unaccountable. I had no idea about the EU Parliament or the European Council though. In addition, I fell for the £350m a week lie, believing that it could genuinely go to the NHS. Plus, ‘easiest deal in the world’ yadeyadeyada.
The penny began to drop shortly after the referendum. I hadn’t kept too much in touch with what had been going on – but in a reading of my presentation to a group of friends, one of them interrupted me halfway through and said, “You know that the £350m thing was a lie, right?”
Like most would, I got defensive, and began to make up some BS. It was only when one of my mates said “Mate, listen to me – I supported Leave, but that was an outright lie.”
Still, though, I went on with my presentation as planned, just adding that the £350m was incorrect, suggesting it as a reason people would vote for it. After all, I had put three or so months into it. I couldn’t rewrite my notes in a few weeks for the exam.
The exam went well, I passed with distinction (yay me?). I stepped away from politics for most of the rest of the year, while still believing that leaving was the best option, and that those complaining should honour the result – just like your average Brexiter.
In early 2017, I stepped back in with an actual interest. For about a week I supported UKIP – then in a discussion with one of my friends, she told me exactly what they stood for – which was pretty much everything I detested. That ended that support pretty sharpish.
By the 2017 General Election, I still didn’t know who to support. I was ecstatic to see the Tories half-collapse, though. Following that, I kept an interest in politics, and halfheartedly supported Labour. After all, I didn’t know who else I could support, and I still thought leaving was the best option.
It was only around the early-mid 2018 that I really began to realise what was happening. It was then, also, that I realised that the EU had a Parliament, and learned about the European Council too. That was the Big Thing that did it for me. At that point, I became a #RemainerNow.
I was livid. I thought myself a centrist (left leaning, at least), so I latched onto the Lib Dems and began supporting them. Late 2018/early 2019 I found out about the #FBPE hashtag and thought, ‘Well, this would be a good way to get my voice heard’. It was only then that as I began to grow I realised exactly what #FBPE stood for – and then it wasn’t just a way for me to grow, it was something that I stood for.
Change UK happened, and I supported them. I realised that the taint of the 2010-2015 coalition would likely never leave the Lib Dems. Change UK were something different. I supported them because they were willing to stand up for their principles in a way that resonated brilliantly with me. Of course, then they absolutely collapsed with an almost atrocious – in my opinion – launch, and that ended my support for them.
At that point, I drifted back to the Lib Dems. I did my research, and saw that although they supported a lot of the policies during the Coalition years, they saved us from something potentially worse (as seen in 2015-2017, when the Tories had a majority of their own).
But then time went on, and I couldn’t kid myself much longer. I was too left wing for the Lib Dems, so naturally my support would go to Labour, right? Not entirely. Their Brexit policy was the big kicker. Now, I might be more inclined to support them in the future, but then that is a different story.
And here we are now, only a few months away from Brexit Day, and nowhere near ready for it. I would say my support would go to the Greens, but unless the Lib Dems stand back for them in my constituency, my vote would have to go to Labour. As much as I may dislike him (he was accused of being abusive to Westminster staff back in 2018), at the last General Election, the Labour MP Paul Farrelly won by only 30 votes, and I don’t think I could live with myself comfortably if my lack of a vote gave the seat to the Tories. Or worse – the Brexit Party.
Everybody is different, and this is something I am very conscious of, so by sharing my story today I hope I can convince others to share theirs too, and be more open, showing how different and varied our movement is.
Please, if you have read this far, do share my story, write your own if you want, do whatever... Just don’t be silent!🔷
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