It’s been six days since the country voted to leave the European Union. I’ve had a weekend to calm down, but I’m still angry.
I voted to remain. The majority of people where I live voted to remain. Now we’re leaving Europe. I’m pissed off. I mean like really pissed off. Why? Two reasons:
- Nature’s screwed
I think that the nature, our environment and farming – all the things that I care about – will be fare worse off in a Britain outside the EU. For starters, around 70% of our environmental protection stems from EU legislation. Countless millions in EU grants support crucial conservation projects and research. For example, organisations like the National Trust are basically kept afloat by EU agricultural subsidy.
However, all through the campaign there’s been scant mention of nature. ‘Environment’ was namechecked just twice at the referendum debate in Wembley last week.
Since the count was declared on Friday we’ve seen environmental leaders argue that Brexit offers the environment ‘new opportunities’. For example, in tearing up the Common Agricultural Policy, we could create a subsidy system that puts nature first. Apparently we can now ‘make Brexit work for the environment’ says CEO of Friends of the Earth, Craig Bennett.
Do I think that it’ll happen? I have no idea. Nobody has any idea. That’s the problem isn’t it?
But do I think that the Vote Leave crew will give any thought to nature when negotiating their way out of Europe? Do I think Labour’s new shadow environment secretary – MP for the studiously non-green York Central constituency and beneficiary of a party crisis on par with Krakatoa – knows her way round a Painted Lady? No. Absolutely not.
- The future looks grey
You often hear people talk about the arrogance of youth, but what about the arrogance of the elderly? According to polling by Lord Ashcroft, the arch Tory even Tories love to hate, this referendum saw young people vote overwhelmingly for Remain and over 65s vote predominantly for leave.
What people didn’t realise was that there was more to this referendum. The vote wasn’t just about Europe. It was about people’s deep hatred of political, cultural and financial elite that always prospers. It became about shoving it to the man. But by shoving it to the man, the Leavers have shoved us out of Europe.
In time I’m sure I’ll calm down. In time, I’ll realise that a UK outside Europe does not have to mean a UK where wildlife cannot thrive. But just at the moment it feels like we’re doomed. Environmental laws, investment in wildlife habitats, my friends’ jobs, now all at risk.
Oh Britain. What have you done?
It will likely be Autumn before we’re any the wiser on the direction Britain will take. Therefore it’s crucial that in the coming months we keep up the pressure on our politicians. We need to make them see that the environment matters. We can’t leave nature out of our negotiations with the EU.
Tweet or write to your MP, go on a demonstration, shout at the telly in the pub. Whatever you do: tell Britain that nature matters.