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October 21, 2021



British educator, ashamed of his country's vote on remaining in EU, calls for referendum on exit terms

26.6.2016 10:13
Great Britain voted in a referendum to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016. (Collage:
Great Britain voted in a referendum to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016. (Collage:

Mark Penfold, an educator and founding member of the Roma Education Support Trust, has written the following letter in response to the results of the referendum on Brexit. News server republishes it here in full.

I woke up this morning feeling angry, confused and ashamed of my country. Why angry? I am angry on behalf of my children and future grandchildren who will suffer the collateral damage of the decision to leave the EU. I am angry on behalf of the people who came perfectly legally to this country to work hard and contribute who have now been made to feel that they have somehow done something wrong. They had no vote this time and therefore no voice to express their views.

I am confused. Confused because whenever I have said to people that a leave vote would crash the pound and stock markets, causing investment and the attached jobs to go to other countries I was told that was scaremongering. Two days later sterling has fallen like a footballer looking for a penalty, the country’s credit rating has been dropped like an England wicket keeper attempting a catch while the stock market has tumbled faster than Tom Daley on the belief that investment will go elsewhere. Petrol prices will now rise with the sterling to dollar movement fuelling inflation. Is "scaremongering" just one of the many examples where the Leave Campaign mutilated the English language? "Scaremongering" is the new word for telling an uncomfortable truth; an "economic migrant" used to mean somebody earning a living in a country they were not born in and contributing to it, now it means someone we don’t want in this country.

I am angry because I have to live in a country defined by [UKIP chair] Nigel Farage and confused at the same time because I find myself agreeing with a Nigel Farage quote from the 2015 election, “I think frankly when it comes to chaos you ain't seen nothing yet.” I am still confused when I remember that Nigel Farage can trace his family tree back to French migrants and he is married to a German national, presumably making his children the offspring of a migrant. Why may he benefit from immigration to the UK but others who do the same have to be stopped? I am confused as to why more than 5 000 000 UK passport holders can work in other countries but it is wrong for similar numbers from other countries to live here.

I believe there are a lot of angry and confused people following this campaign and vote. Angry and confused people tend to feel excluded from society. A society with large numbers of excluded members is a damaged society. Over recent years there has been a focus on reaching out to socially excluded groups yet we have created a very large number who feel excluded from mainstream Britain by the vote. There are many migrants and descendants of migrants who will continue to live here perfectly legally who feel resentful at the tone of the campaign and are convinced that they are resented or even hated. What now for social and community cohesion? Reducing immigration was claimed to be necessary to promote inclusion generally. Will there now be a race to get to the UK before the door shuts thus putting up the numbers of immigrants in contrast to the wishes of the leavers?

As a democrat I accept the Leave Campaign won the vote and congratulate them on their place in history. In 50 years’ time Brexit will be on the school curriculum and our grandchildren will refer to the Leave campaign as 21st century Luddites. However, like so many, I do not accept they won the argument. They simply told a few big untruths so many times that the falsehoods were believed by enough of the electorate.

As a democrat I want the same rights as the Leave the EU movement were granted. There was a referendum on the terms for remaining in the EU negotiated by David Cameron. I call for the right to have a referendum on the terms the Leave politicians “negotiate” for the exit.

No one knows what the terms of our separation from the EU will be. It is unlikely to be as mature as "We’ll keep the Oasis CDs and you can keep the Three Tenors". The voters have said they do not like the terms negotiated by David Cameron [to remain] but I have not seen the terms to leave, which will almost certainly be imposed rather than negotiated. The only thing we do know is Nigel has often indicated he would accept reduced national wealth as a price for reduced immigration but during this campaign denied that leaving would be financially damaging.

So I call for the promise from Leave of a referendum, once they have been to the head teacher’s study to learn the terms of their exclusion, so that I can decide if I accept the financial implications or not. I also believe this would be in the true spirit of democracy, whereas the current demand for a rerun of the recent referendum on the grounds the result was close would not be.

Mark Penfold
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