Will Brexit break Britain and ruin my family’s plan?
Two weeks ago I moved back to England with my 2-year old. I’m 6 months pregnant and my husband’s only following in a few weeks. I have been living in South Africa for 8 years. 11 days after landing, the UK voted to leave the European Union.
Obviously this is the only thing the country can talk about, and rightly so as the effects are going to be huge, but one question from a mum I meet in a playground stopped me in my tracks. I told her my situation and her serious response was “are you sure that (moving back) was the right decision?”
To give you a bit of perspective on the situation, I initially moved to South Africa for 4 months to spend time with my then boyfriend and now husband. The 4 months flew by and I decided to get a job and agreed, willing, to stay 2 years if we gave it a shot in the UK for 2 years after. I thought it was a little bit of a chaotic country then, but I love it, and somehow 2 years turned into 8 years with a lot of personal gain along the way – an amazing husband, a gorgeous toddler, a group of very close friends and some career highs as well. I never considered our move to England our “get-out of South Africa plan”, as insinuated by so many people. It was simply part of our plan, and always had been.
However, I did always feel I was living in two worlds. The plan was to move back and I couldn’t fully settle or commit knowing that. This became even more of an issue after having Luke. Challenges I had brushed off or lived with before were now at the forefront of my mind. Safety, I hate to say this because it is a cliché, but it became an issue, future security for my children, living with such inequalities and having such little say or influence in the politics of the country. These were big things I couldn’t ignore, and in hindsight didn’t do enough to combat.
So when the slight majority of UK voters voted to leave the EU on June 23rd, I can honestly say I was shocked and devastated. Of course this is the way a democracy works and not all votes go the way you believe is right, but I felt sick to the pit of my stomach and anxious beyond belief with the results and the immediate effects. For example, reports of hate crime increased by 57%.
It has been reported that a high percentage of ‘Leave’ voters now regret their decision. They didn’t expect to win or that the implications of winning would be so catastrophic, the pound lost value immediately. This to such a naïve and annoying response. Why the hell did you vote so footloose on such an important issue? Yes, the ‘Leave’ campaign was domineering, aggressive and played on the areas a lot of people in the country are annoyed about, but we live in an age and in a country where you have plenty of information at your fingers tips. Why did you wait until after the announcement of the referendum results to Google “What is Brexit?” and “What is the EU?” Yes, according to Google, those were the most Googled terms by the UK on the 23rd of June.
In South Africa, the politicians are the butt of a lot of jokes on a regular basis. For example, Jacob Zuma fumbling over ANC membership numbers. And now British politics is up there and has become a circus featuring clowns played by Jeremy Corbyn , David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and all too often Rupert Murdoch (note – since writing this blog a few days ago those politicians have either resigned, should have resigned or gone for the PM job but pulled out). It’s a joke.
So when the mum asked “was that the right decision?” it hit me hard. Was this now the right move for my family? We seem to have jumped from known uncertainties in SA to the unknown in the UK. But my husband and I didn’t choose where to live based on the ruling party. And the future is never certain. Life isn’t a path you can create and stick to 100%. Despite Brexit the country continues and what I returned for is here, the UK is still familiar to me in a way that I love and call home.
As for my biggest concern, the future of my children, I have decided to view it like this – one of our many jobs as parents is to bring up robust humans who can deal with the challenges they will face and the many curve balls thrown at them along the way. We don’t know what they will be, but there will be plenty.
So now I am having to live by my own words. I told my friends when I was leaving SA that you have to commit to a country. I don’t mean just financially, I mean living by what you believe is right. We are here and are going to stay for the time we agreed to stay and then reassess. I will start my time here by finding my pack of friends to go through this journey with. Bring on Mammas’ Meeting Place UK.