Column: Five years from Brexit – the day Fife voted to  Remain, but UK opted to leave

June 23, 2016 saw Britain vote to leave the EU - and Brexit became our reality.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 10:40 am
The EU vote was held five years ago
The EU vote was held five years ago

While Britain voted to leave the European Union, Fife opted to stay.

In the Kingdom, the historic, divisive referendum produced a clear result - 58.6% in favour of the status quo - with 41.4% voting to leave.

The morning after the count, I penned this column:

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Brexit

Five years ago on Friday morning, we woke to the news that we'd voted ourselves out of the EU. Seldom had the UK looked more baffled or bewildered.

It was a bit like the morning after a rollicking night on the tiles when you text your pal to ask “mate, what the hell happened last night?’’

And then you reach for the paracetamol, pull the duvet back over your head and hope the pain eventually goes away. If only the Brexit recovery was that simple ...

I was at the Fife count until silly o’clock in the morning - I emerged to the sound of birds chirping, and the sense that nothing would ever be the same again.

It was a weird count. For a start, the Leave campaign didn’t even bother to turn up.

Looking down from the media balcony we noted the tables set aside for the Leavers to crunch the numbers logged by the canvassers who crowd round the counting tables were empty.

We scoured the hall for a hint of UKIP purple. Even in their ‘finest hour’ none could be found.

Eventually we spotted one solitary canvasser trying to sample the votes at 36 stations in three rows running the length of the sports hall.

Whoever that lone foot soldier was, I salute you. I hope Team Leave sent you a wee ‘thank you’ note.

I got home in time to see Nigel Farage gloating - truly not a sight you want at 4am - dozed on the sofa, and was woken by breaking news that David Cameron was chucking it in three months.

Since then Labour has collapsed quicker than trying to whip out the wrong block in a game of Jenga, Nicola Sturgeon has blown the dust off her indyref2 dream, and the Leave team suddenly realised it’d better chuck together a plan of action.

How on earth did we get ourselves into this shambles?

The campaign was quite horrible. When senior politicians start lobbing in comments about, or references to, Nazi Germany you know you’ve scraped beyond the bottom of the barrel.

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But not only was it marred by prejudice, borderline racism and a fast and loose approach to the facts - the information which people clearly based their vote on and then realised they’d been suckered - it also felt like we were only just participating in an event in a far away land.

The world of blustering Bojo and little man Farage - whose ‘speech’ at the EU this week was graceless and juvenile in tone - didn’t speak to Scotland, but resonated loud and clear across England.

I spent time this month in London, Coventry and Manchester where there was a clear referendum buzz; people wanted to know how you were voting.

Up here?

Not a single leaflet unless it got bundled up with the Domino’s pizza takeaway menu.

This referendum felt alien and ugly; a squabble between Tory toffs egged on by the one-trick pony UKippers, but one which still engulfed the whole country.

The bedlam will cease eventually, but Brexit Britain is a mess.

And one look at those at the helm doesn’t fill you with much confidence for the immediate future.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Fife Free Press.