On the morning of June 24th 2016 I woke up with a start and reached immediately for my phone, I could hear the blood pumping in my ears.
The day before I had taken part in possibly the most significant political vote of my lifetime so far: the EU referendum.
I pressed the icon for Twitter and held my breath, but I never expected to see the result I did. ‘Oh no’, I said to my partner who had heard me stirring and turned to hear what I’d read. ‘They’ve voted leave’.
Whilst I respect the way that others have voted, I’m not sure I will ever forgive them for taking what I saw as a risk with the future of our country and on that morning I was scared, no, terrified.
So, as I often do when I’m feeling down or worried, I sat down and wrote a letter to my son, my little boy who I was 7 months pregnant with at the time.
I wanted to write and tell you that I’m sorry for the way this vote has turned out, and sorry for any of the problems it might cause you as you’re growing up.
As I’m sure you know by now, I have spent many years trying to establish myself in a good career but, for one reason or another (the recession and subsequent ‘austerity measures’) caused by a variety of things (the government) I have often struggled to find work.
I didn’t want you to face the uncertainty I did, I wanted you to have all the good things that you deserve. But, I fear the result of this vote might lead you down exactly the same path that I followed. Remember darling boy, struggles are part of life and it’s important we learn to overcome them.
I don’t know how ‘Brexit’ is going to affect our job opportunities, but the uncertainty couldn’t have some at a worse time. You see, I was made redundant last year and I’m terrified to think that when I return to work full time next year I will be doing so in an uncertain market. Just like I did during the recession.
I wanted to be able to show you it is good to have a career, that women can bring up their families and hold down a job, but I’m scared the opportunities for me to do that might now be limited as companies struggle to offer fair employment.
The fear I have about the state the economy will be in after we have left the EU is making me consider going back to work early, but that seems so unfair. Why should I miss out on time with you because politicians have been willing to take a risk with our future?
I don’t know why David Cameron thought it was okay to call this referendum just to win the election, I don’t know why he did it before anyone had researched what would actually happen if we left the EU. I don’t know why anyone would vote for this outcome when they don’t actually know what impact it will have. It all makes me quite mad.
But what makes me most angry is this vote is a clear indication of the mood of our society at the moment. People are becoming more and more scared of diversity and less and less sympathetic towards people who are worse off than themselves… I didn’t want that to be the world you grow up in.
There’s no denying the reason many people voted for us to leave the EU was because they are worried about the impact immigration is having on our country: on our jobs and economy, our NHS and public services and, significantly, our freedom of speech that we value so much.
The media has managed to persuade them immigrants are the root of all the problems we face, not the cuts the government has imposed on us. It is making neighbours hate one another and that is making me very scared.
Our communities already feel so divided and I’m scared ‘Brexit’ will only add to that, that it will lead to people feeling angry at those who are different and to those who are ‘different’ feeling even more alone.
It feels like I’m living in a country that I’m not really very proud of, that I don’t particularly want to be in, and I’m concerned this divide is just going to keep getting bigger.
I keep my fingers crossed for you, Harry, that something or someone will unite us all again, to encourage us to stand up for people who are poor or different and say ‘actually, I’d rather we lived in a world where we looked after each other’.
If we both keep fighting for that my darling boy, I know it will be okay.
I’m really sorry for the outcome this morning, I’m really sorry for the impact it might have on your life, but I will always be here for you if you’re worried or scared… because hopefully that will mean you too will be there for others.
I love you,