Listening to a stream of irritated brits calling the radio station last night, one caller remarked Brexit was a ‘protest vote’ a kick in the gonads for David Cameron, another said it was a revolt by white working class brits over identity (presumably referring to the mass migrations London is subject to)
The morning of 23 June 2016, Rosamund Shaw still wasn’t sure if she wanted Britain to leave the European Union. During the preceding weeks, she had been in turmoil. She absorbed a stream of negative stories about the EU in the Daily Mail, but wasn’t sure they were reliable. She trusted Boris Johnson, but loathed Michael Gove. Her family was divided. One daughter, who worked abroad, was a staunch remainer; the other an adamant leaver. Upending the usual age dynamic, her younger relatives complained of eastern European migrants costing them work, while her mother, who had lived through the second world war, felt that the EU had guaranteed peace in Europe. In the voting booth, Shaw finally made her choice: she voted leave. “To be quite frank, I did not believe it would happen,” she says. “I thought I’d put in a protest vote. The impact of my stupidity!”
As soon as Shaw saw the result the following morning, her heart sank. “I was in shock,” she remembers. “Even though I voted leave, I thought, ‘Oh no! This is terrible!’ Then all hell broke loose. The texts started flying. There was a massive fight on Facebook.”
Rosamund Shaw is a pseudonym. If she was identified, she says, it might inflame the bitter family row that has been raging since last June, and she still hasn’t told her remainer daughter the truth about how she voted. In the weeks after the referendum, she found herself feeling apologetic around EU migrants. “I feel I need to smile and talk to people who are waiting on me in pubs and cafes and say, ‘I’m really glad you’re here. I don’t want you to go.’”
A few months ago, Shaw was hospitalised after an accident. “That was the catalyst that brought me over strongly to remain,” she says. “Ninety per cent of the people who dealt with me were immigrants. I thought, what the hell are we doing? This is wrong on so many levels. We’ve opened Pandora’s box and that distresses me beyond measure.”
How does she feel now about her decision on 23 June?
“I feel horrified with myself that I was so gullible,” she says heavily. “I feel ashamed.”