Dear Kids, This Is Why I Voted ‘Leave’

Dear Kids, This Is Why I Voted ‘Leave’

Dear Boys,

Today Mummy feels like an outsider. Today Mummy has, along with half the nation, been called stupid, racist, xenophobic, a simpleton, uneducated, jobless and accused of not caring about your future, amongst other truly spiteful things. Of course none of this is true.

I admit to not being an expert on politics or the economy but I did not take this decision lightly. I did my research, I know this affects your future more than mine. I tried very hard in amongst all the other things I have to worry about to find impartial information that wasn’t scaremongering. It wasn’t easy. The Remain camp seemed to be adamant that the whole country would collapse if we left and the Leave camp just seemed to be harping on about immigration and how many billions we contribute to the EU each week. Nothing is black and white, everything has pros and cons and I could see both positives and negatives for voting either way. The threats we were being issued on a daily basis were verging on hysterical. There were no balanced arguments at all. Why couldn’t the leader of our country try to persuade us of the positives of remaining in the EU instead of trying to scare the life out of us with all the negatives?

As the big day got closer I was still undecided and at one point I even considered not voting as I just wasn’t sure enough which way to go. In the end I just had to think to myself ‘am I happy with the way things are now?’ And I’m afraid the answer was no. So maybe a change of direction will help? Maybe leaving Europe isn’t the answer but something needs to change. Maybe had things been changed earlier, the public wouldn’t have protested so strongly on June 23rd.

The thing is boys, that we are very much working class living right in the middle of middle class London. I’m not ashamed of this and you shouldn’t be either. Your grandad told your dad to ‘learn a trade’ and your dad would have probably told you the same if things were different. You were safe that way, you would never go hungry. Grandad had to sell up and leave the country 10 years ago. As a painter and decorator he could no longer afford to live here. The industry was flooded with unregulated workers who are prepared to work for less, sometimes less than half and daddy is in the same position today. It’s nobody’s fault. Who wouldn’t go to another country to work and earn more money, send money home to their kids, save up and eventually return home themselves? I am speaking from experience here, we have lots of friends, good friends who are doing just that. We’re all on the same page here. Just trying to do the best by our kids. I’m not some right-wing fascist who hates immigration but I do feel we need to have some more control and that workers from Australia or Asia should have an equally fair chance to come and contribute to the UK.

Every single week we struggle to keep our heads above water. Mummy adds up everything we spend on a spreadsheet to ensure we can pay the bills, while Daddy works 6-7 days, and sometimes nights on top. He can’t come to sports day or to football practice. Mummy works too, but nanny has to look after you as we can’t afford private childcare. We seem to be stuck in this weird middle ground where we have too much money coming in to receive any help but too much money going out to be able to save anything. Buying a property has been out of the question for us, despite being hard workers all of our lives. Our families aren’t in the position to help and we would be retired before we managed to save enough for the deposit whilst house prices continue to rise with no control over who can buy them or leave them empty. I am grateful to have a roof over our heads and to not have to rely on benefits but I don’t want you to be stuck where we are 25 years down the line, living week to week and wondering if there will be work next week or food the week after.

I realise that all of the above is very personal to us as a family and of course I had lots more reasons, too many to list. But in the end, that’s how I had to vote. With my heart. It was a 60/40 thing, change is scary of course. Maybe it will all end in tears but I have faith in Britain, Britain is great. Of course things are shaken up now but I am willing to embrace it and have some belief that my country can continue to be great, independently.

To hear people bleat yesterday that they are ashamed to be British makes me ashamed of them. Whatever the result was, we should have shaken hands, respected each other’s reasons and stood shoulder to shoulder and agreed to make it work. What we shouldn’t have done is taken to social media to throw mud at each other, to bully, troll and belittle. To claim uneducated or elderly people shouldn’t have been allowed to vote. You don’t need a masters degree to have an opinion. The hate I have seen on social media has upset me so much, I have had to take a break from it, maybe forever. To see people turn against friends and family members because they have a different opinion to their own is heartbreaking. That’s not a democracy. It’s hypocrisy at best.

Boys, I hope from the bottom of my heart things change for the better and not for the worse. All we can do is wait and see. The point is, nobody knows. I have always urged you to trust your instincts and follow your heart and that’s what I did on June 23rd. Not for me, for you. Please don’t ever feel bullied  and belittled like I did yesterday, stand up tall and be proud of your decisions, as long as you have made them with a good heart. Likewise I urge you to respect others’ opinions and not attack them on a personal level if their opinion differs from your own. You must never judge anyone until you have walked their path. We aren’t all affected by the same issues and we are all entitled to a say.

Love always,



To read the partner piece to this, ‘Dear Kids, Today We Decided To Leave The EU’ click here

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  1. Geraldine Cooper

    26th June 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Good on you for writing this Emma. I couldn’t be further from your way of thinking on the issue of Europe, but that’s for my own reasons, just as you made your decision for yours. You voted with your head and your heart after careful consideration and that’s the democratic way. I hope that once the dust has settled, we can all just get on with doing what needs to be done to ensure this transition is as stable and peaceful as possible. Very few things are entirely good or entirely bad, and so this shall hopefully prove to be the case in time.

    • MidlandLife

      26th June 2016 at 7:47 pm

      Yes! Well said both of you x

  2. Claire Towers

    27th June 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Emma this is great. I could have almost written the words myself. I voted leave and since have been made to feel guilty that racists have started their viscious attacks again down to my decision. I welcome immigration in the right way. multiracial and multicultural society benefits us in so many ways. I, like you, made my decision for my boys. I do not regret my decision but do fear for our democracy in light of the petition stating 3 million want a rematch because the vote didnt go their way. Now that is scary.

  3. Fiona

    27th June 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Emma, I echo Geraldine’s comment. Well done for writing this x

  4. Sita

    28th June 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Dear Emma,

    Thank you for writing this. I do have a Master’s degree, in Economics, specialising in Economic Integration. Every part of my being wanted to remain and June 24th was honestly one of the worst days of my life. I am deeply saddened about what I feel this means our future and that of our children. So I don’t share your view (or let’s say 60% of your view) on this at all. In spite of this level of emotion, I’ve tried really hard to not insult leave-voters and to understand their concerns. I completely agree with you that this is a horrific, unconstructive practice that only makes our country worse and is a terrible way to treat other people. I hope that we learn from this election that we are not talking to one another enough. I think articles like this help a lot with addressing that… and I really appreciate your bravery and honesty in sharing your thoughts.

    You’ve already done a lot to help bridge this important gap, but I would ask you to do two more things if you can. You seem to be very conscientious about the news you consume in making important decisions like this, which is great, and I definitely agree that you don’t need to have a Master’s degree to have an opinion. I’ve struggled to understand why people in my academic community were labelled as elite scaremongerers when speaking out about this vote – why our fears were dismissed as some sort of manipulation or lack of imagination of what Britain could accomplish alone, rather than well-informed hard-won expertise from people who research both the pitfalls and the benefits of economic integration. I take your point about not talking enough about the positives of being in the EU. I wish I had done that more. I wish the remain campaign (which I’m not exactly in love with) had done that more too. But if you don’t already, then please always question HARD anyone who vilifies expertise or question whether fear is perhaps warranted if so many people are expressing it. That’s the first thing I ask. The second is that, as you ask us to understand you (and I’ll certainly try), also try to understand us. It is clear that not every leave-voter did take this decision as seriously as you did, or wasn’t influenced by racism/xenophobia/some other prejudice. For those of us who are completely crushed by this result, those stories and the idea that this is the basis for our country’s representation to the rest of the world are unbearable. I am ashamed that I live in a country where my brother – a non-white Briton who can call nowhere else but the UK home – was attacked in a supermarket yesterday on racial grounds by people citing the leave decision as justification for their actions. I am ashamed that this was by no means an isolated incident. I am ashamed that the different camps around this vote fought so nastily, and so easily sacrificed our unity to further their agendas. I am ashamed too, that good citizens like you who took your vote seriously were made to feel so bad for coming to a different conclusion. That’s not ok. It’s a complicated issue and we experience components of it differently, depending on how our lives are shaped. We should expect to arrive at different conclusions. And on a related note, I am ashamed that our democracy rests upon such unclear and untruthful information from our media and political representatives. I don’t see much to be proud of right now, except that we are at least able to have discussions about it and try to do better. Thank you for this glimmer of hope.

    I wish you and your family all the best.


    • DPG

      29th June 2016 at 12:14 am

      Sita, thank-you for this comment. I am deeply concerned that expertise and scaremongering were conflated during the whole debate – worrying signs indeed. And both campaigns were terribly negative in focus – the Remain camp very obviously so, and the Leave camp… Well, 5 days later we still have yet to hear what they were campaigning FOR (rather than against).

      I am very upset at the outcome of the referendum but the vilification of people who voted in good faith is plain wrong and I certainly understand Emma’s longing for something to change even if I think that she has chosen her target poorly.

  5. TheResident

    28th June 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Very well written, Emma. I’d love to share this article with some of my friends, but like you’ve said, I’ve also come off social media for the time being to get away from ‘friends’ slating each other. I feel like you’ve said everything I wanted to say. I was so undecided, even up to walking to the polling station I was reading news articles in the hope someone impartial would say something of help. In the end I was 55/45 remain, which is what I chose. My husband, from a multi cultural family, voted out and has been called all the things you say in your article. I wish people would respect the views of each other, after all, can 17 million people all really be tarred with the same brush?! Thank you for writing this piece x

  6. Simon Brown

    3rd July 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Dear Emma,

    I feel for you. At the moment there’s nothing else I can do than sympathise. But I am sorry.

    Unfortunately some of the doomiest predictions of the Remain camp look to be coming true – it looks like, for instance, those of us who chose to move to the EU to live are going to have to make some tough decisions about how we manage to live in countries where we won’t have automatic rights to live. But we’ll scrape along somehow. And what you’ve highlighted is something far more important and far more fundamental.

    The EU has let you down. It has let you down and it has let all the other working class down – millions and millions of people (apart from those who are xenophobic which is a tiny number). It has let you down and abandoned you. It hasn’t regulated sufficiently on zero hours contracts, it hasn’t regulated sufficiently on protecting the low-paid whose jobs are the most gravely threatened by free movement of labour. Free movement of labour at the expense of those who cannot hope to aspire to be anything other than low-paid is exploitation. It hasn’t regulated on sharp practice by landlords causing rental costs to rocket, while wages stagnate. It hasn’t delivered fairness or equity to those who desperately need it the most.

    You were given a choice and they rejected the EU because it hasn’t delivered what was promised. Whether that was wise is a different question. Whether whatever it’s replaced with will be even less fair and even less equitable is a different question. But the truth is, following 40 years of underfunding of the NHS, education, wages, house building… what else can people do other than protest. This was your protest. We dismiss that protest at our peril (which doesn’t mean we SHOULD leave the EU, it just means, we REALLY have to address the underlying issues properly).

    Here’s the thing. None of the issues you experience and will continue to experience are the fault of the EU. They ALL the fault of the British government – who have absolute authority and sovereignty to make life much more tolerable for the low-paid. And they have chosen to reject the countless opportunities they’ve had to make life better for everyone. I know you blame the EU or maybe have been told by the press to blame the EU. But the truth is… it’s the government. It’s decades of underfunding and neglect and abandonment of the working class. It’s decades of snooty, overbearing, judgemental nonsense from politicians and the right-wing press who pander to their every whim.

    We had a financial crisis caused by lack of regulation and mismanagement and the people who’ve paid the price are – well you. People on lower wages have borne the brunt of cuts caused by stupid gambles made by very rich, very powerful idiots. The problem, as you’re no doubt seeing, is that the people who were pushing for Brexit – at least the leaders – were some of those very self-same idiots. They really don’t have your best interests at heart.

    I hope that things get better for you – because a supported, thriving working and middle class is actually what will make Britain great. At the moment it’s just kind-of OK-ish…

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