It has been a while since I’ve written anything serious. Seriously. But with just 24 hours until Britain’s electoral crunch time, I thought now more than ever would be a good time to continue that trend.
I’m writing from the standpoint of a British journalist working in a foreign, and soon to be more foreign, land – Spain. The UK is no stranger to Spain; Britain has a centuries-old official claim to the southern portion of the Iberian Peninsula, Gibraltar. Meanwhile, centuries-old Brits have an unofficial claim to the surrounding lands – the Costa del Sol, which in Lancastrian English means “the price uh’ sun;” a question we’re sure to answer in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.
But while Brexit gets passed around between campaigning politicians in the UK like a bottle of Tesco own brand champagne, for British workers in Spain, where there is no Tesco, it looms over the horizon of our livelihoods like an embarrassing itch. Could be nothing, could be fatal.
And this itch is scratched and scraped and stretched by the powers that be thousands of miles away, back home. Our futures working in a Spanish office with our Spanish friends drinking our Spanish beers and paying our Spanish taxes is now leverage in a political arena where we have little to no clout. We must sit and wait for the chess master.
At least I had the privilege to up and move to Spain. But what would await me should I be forced to move home? A village green stained with the blood of red foxes?
Even from Spain, we can smell the grizzly breath of the British tabloid media. It creeps into my office from time to time. Its rancid tendrils drift over the continent, picking up comments from Brussels to Berlin, before retreating across the Channel to twist and turn their meaning. It presents those skewed facts to millions, who drink it up like vultures feasting on fear.
A casual gander over to the Express and you’ll see some obscure former MEP from Slovenia SLAMMING Juncker. In the Sun, a comment made by Spain’s top diplomat turned into a call for war – UP YOURS SEÑORS, read the headline said – misspelled. According to the Mail (in fact all of them), the EU will be paying the Brexit bill. Propaganda.
That propaganda holds people hostage and its is powerful. Our own prime minister daren’t denounce the degradation of women, racist fear-mongering, and breaches of privacy proffered by this putrid portion of the press. Again, civilians have little to no clout in this arena.
In fact, the far-right press coins the language later to be adopted in parliament as if we live in some topsy-turvy world. It bemoans the bremoaners and belittles those who demand proof. Now MPs warn against catastrophizing and insist we need to get on with it.
The propaganda press drives the narrative in Britain to such an extent that one report prompted Theresa May to speak out against Brussels for shining a negative light on Brexit in UK media. It whipped the British public into such a fury over Gibraltar that the Spanish government had to allay fears over the rock’s fate.
A rancid spiral of sensationalism in UK politics and the country’s media would make the most hardened Brussels bureaucrat blush.
Things are only going to get choppier in those Britishest of Isles. No deal is better than a bad deal, says our leader, with her back turned to some of the most intelligent and experienced contemporary politicians on Earth. We will not pay a cent, barks the right-wing press.
But, whatever happens in the future (bad things will happen), the Brexiteers will never take responsibility for their actions. They will always point their crooked claw of blame at Europe.
Remember, just because a political party and its press wing mirrors how you feel or makes you comfortable in your own skin, it does not mean they’re in this with you. Those at the top will happily burn the bridges to the EU for you and walk away unsinged.
The stripes of the Union Jack melt from my skin in utter shame.
Wouldn’t it be nice to just stand back and take everything in with a long exhale? Or, I don’t know, do something crazy like run through a field of wheat.