Globalist Magazine

Globalists of Wellesley: Brexit

MIKA: Hello and welcome to the “Globalists of Wellesley” which is a new segment for The Wellesley Globalist! I’m Mika and joining us today is Ella.

ELLA: Hello!

MIKA: Do you want to introduce yourself and where you’re from?

ELLA: My name is Ella Apostoaie. I am from Norwich in England which is a small-ish city in the East and I’m a sophomore at Wellesley.

MIKA: Cool! We wanted to talk a little bit about something going on in the world today. For anyone who is joining us who doesn’t know about it or even for people who do, could you give a brief explanation about Brexit for someone who has never heard of it?

ELLA: Okay. This isn’t going to be super intensely political like lingo-wise. When David Cameron was campaigning as part of the Conservative Party to be elected as the Prime Minister, he said that he would hold a referendum so that the British public could vote on whether they wanted to leave the European Union or remain a part of it. He ended up winning [the Prime Minister election] and then the referendum was held. The result was that 51.9% of people voted to “leave”. Since then, he actually ended up resigning and Prime Minister Theresa May stepped up. She has been trying to strike a deal that the European Union will accept and that the rest of the members of Parliament would also accept, which is not really happening at the minute. Essentially, the U.K. would leave the European Union which it has been a part of for all of my lifetime. [Brexit is] the U.K. leaving the European Union, or at least trying to.

MIKA: Does it affect you? And if it does, how does it affect you?

ELLA: I would say one thing for me is the concern about travel between the U.K. and other European countries. This is particularly important because my dad wasn’t born in England. He was born in Romania, but he became a British citizen when I was 5 years old so now he holds a British passport. For him, the idea that the process of going from the U.K. back to his home in Romania [will be] more complicated is something that he’s concerned about. It’s led me to think, “Would I feel that it was important for me to pursue getting a Romanian passport?” [as] I would be able to do [so]. I know a lot of my friends who have ties to other countries are genuinely thinking, “Would we even forgo our own citizenship or would we seek to hold dual-citizenship with another country?” because we want to have the access to travel between European countries [and] because it’s a lot easier for members of the European Union than it is people outside the European Union.

MIKA: As far as public opinion goes or what those close to you say, what do people around you think about Brexit?

ELLA: Where I live in the heart of the city [of Norwich], the majority vote was “remain.” But the surrounding areas were all “leave,” and a lot of [my] extended family lives in the suburbs or in other villages either an hour to an hour and a half outside of the city. I’d say the ways they think about Brexit and the ways my friends and I, and people who live very central to the city, think about Brexit is very different. That’s not to say that either of us know more or know less about it. Norwich as a city has a large Eastern European population, whereas the villages are more homogenous. My family [members] who live in rural areas like farms were definitely for “leave.” And I think that came with the idea that being a part of the European Union was somehow contributing significantly to the increase of immigrants from other countries. And that’s not to say that in being a part of the European Union, immigration isn’t involved. But I do think that some of the stronger politicians who were pushing for leave tended to use immigration as a way to scare people and to try and convince them that in leaving the European Union, we would be putting Britain first and protecting the British citizens first and foremost, but I think it got quite messy. In the end, some of the opinions that people held about what Brexit would give them or what Brexit would mean for them wouldn’t necessarily come true…. even fake news was something that circulated a lot and had to do with Brexit. I think within my close circle, we didn’t outwardly express whether we were leave or remain just because it ended up being so contentious that it was kind of a taboo topic. Especially within my school, our teachers didn’t really want to explicitly side with one campaign or the other just because I think that they didn’t want to create a bias within our community. But it did end up such that people who were more central to my city were pro-remain whereas people in the outskirts were more [in favor of] “leave.”

MIKA: So based on what’s happening now with Brexit, where it’s basically on pause, regardless of whether they decide to stay or remain – how do you think relations would change between the E.U. and other countries? For you personally, how do you think it will affect you as an individual?

ELLA: One thing that I felt it has affected is actually my passion about it – or my lack of passion I suppose. Because the process has been so dragged out, I think a lot of people have started to not care, so what we then end up seeing is that the people with such extreme opinions or extreme feelings about either “leave” or “remain” are the ones whose thoughts get vocalized and whose thoughts appear on the news, and so you don’t really see the opinions of people whose thoughts are in-between or on the fence because they’re just fed up of it at this point. I would say that I was definitely someone who… I mean I was very sad that I didn’t even get to vote because I wasn’t old enough at the time, and I would have voted “remain,” but now I just want the process to be over. I think it’s very frustrating that the constant rejections from the MPs [Members of Parliament] and the constant back and forth has just created such an attitude of “we don’t care what happens now–just get over it. Just either leave or don’t leave.”

MIKA: Right.

ELLA: It has seeped into so much of the media and TV shows – Brexit is talked about every single week in every single episode, whether it’s a comedic panel or something that is more politically inclined. The topic is just constantly Brexit. Everybody’s fed up with it now, and I definitely think that I don’t necessarily see a very strong relationship between the U.K. and other members of the European Union just because we aren’t giving a very clear stance, and I think so much pressure is being put on Theresa May to just essentially solve everyone’s problems, and that’s such a huge task, but no one seems to be trying to help… I think that it’s just such a heavy topic. I’m quoting someone else at this point, but there was a comedian on a panel and he was sort of saying that if we were to have a second referendum, the people who voted to leave, like – what has convinced them? At this point there has been no…. Like people’s opinions won’t have changed. And if anything, if we did have a second referendum, because people at this point are so dispassionate about it, we would probably not even see as many people turn out, and the vote would ultimately remain the same because people who want to leave want to leave and people who want to remain want to remain. And no one’s trying to convince them of anything other than that.

MIKA: You mentioned that you weren’t able to vote the last time. So this time would you be eligible, and who else was eligible to vote last time?

ELLA: It was eligible for people 18 and older.

MIKA: And was it only citizens?

ELLA: Yeah. So I would be able to vote. But I think in the sense that because it was such a close call, people can’t necessarily say too strongly that their vote counted toward too much, because essentially if they were going to vote “leave,” then someone else was going to vote “remain.” Everything was just balanced out. And because it’s been years since the vote happened, if we were then to bring it back again, it’s like cutting open a wound. It’s not even stitched up at this point, [the wound is] still open. It’s just dragging out again, like bringing the knife out. I think that students, 18-year-olds who may be able to vote if we were to have another referendum, I think they just want to see progress, and they want to be moving on with their lives. And I think a lot of people are trying to not sever ties, but I have a lot of friends who are trying to study abroad and move away from this, which it’s so hard, because it’s not helping, because then the people who are left behind and these people like I’ve said before who have such extreme but contesting opinions are never going to compromise.

MIKA: As a student from England studying abroad in the U.S., how do you think your opinions have changed based on what you’ve seen in politics over here, or even looking back at home and not being in the midst of all of it, how do you think that’s affected your perspective?

ELLA: I think if I was back home, I would probably be more frustrated in the lack of progress and I also think if I was back home I would be thinking more about the fact that I didn’t have a vote. Whereas being here, I feel slightly detached, and it’s kind of hard though, because being here I’m in the midst of U.S. politics and I feel detached from that as well because I’m from England. It’s hard because I feel like I’m sort of witnessing both of these events like everything’s going on but I don’t necessarily feel too strongly connected to either of them. I mean, people have protested [about Brexit]. People have campaigned with social media posts, but none of that has really come to fruition. Ultimately, it’s the role of the people within Parliament to sort this out, because at this point people have voted and that was all they wanted from us. They have to take those votes and then give us the result, but that isn’t happening. And so, that’s why I do get slightly frustrated, when they dangle this idea of a second referendum in front of us, because I think that they’re trying to palm the responsibility off onto the people again, when we’ve sort of, we’ve had our say. And I truly don’t think that anything would change with the second referendum. But I mean, that’s just my opinion! But I think there’s been a lot of talk and not enough action. And I’m not saying that the MPs don’t deserve a break, but I mean when Theresa May was like, “You could all rest for Easter,” I am just frustrated by that because at the end of the day, while they’re on this break, nothing’s going on. Nothing’s been happening up to this point, and the only way that we will have a successful deal… I mean, we can’t negotiate the deal anymore either [because] the EU doesn’t want that. So essentially the only thing that we can negotiate until October 31st are the wants of Britain with regard to the relationship we’ll have with the E.U. afterwards. And that’s the only thing I think we can negotiate, because the E.U. has said that you can’t renegotiate withdrawal. The one last lego piece is that Theresa May has to convince the MPs to accept. And we can’t be a part of that. There’s nothing that we can do. It’s all on them. And so at this point I just want it out of my hair! [laughs] I truly, truly do. Because I think that David Cameron said that he would hold this referendum because the people wanted it. And the people, we had our referendum, and now… nothing has happened. I think it’s kind of like a slap in the face towards the people’s vote, and sometimes when people say, “Oh, but it was such a close call, does this indicate that it really was what Britain wants?” You kind of have to say, “Well, it was a close call, but these are the votes. Here they are, that’s the situation.”

MIKA: That makes sense. Okay, so on a final, maybe lighter note in some ways, what’s your favorite thing about your home country?

ELLA: Ohhh! This is so cute! My favorite thing about my home country… My home country?

MIKA: Or home.

ELLA: Or home… Honestly, brick.

MIKA: Brick?

ELLA: Brick. Yeah, I don’t like these buildings made of wood. I really don’t. [MIKA laughs] They’re so strange to me. And they have porches – everyone has porches. Yeah, not a thing. I like my brick house with my garden in the back, no one can see what you’re doing.

MIKA: Alright, well thank you so much for joining us today, and it was very informative, so thank you!

ELLA: Thank you!

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