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From Brexit To Windrush: In 2018 I’m Ashamed To Be British



John Lamb via Getty Images

I’ve never had an overwhelming sense of national pride. I was taught at a young age that England would always fail at major sporting tournaments, that we would never win Eurovision, that abroad we would always be viewed as ‘Brits abroad’ when we went on holiday. Yet I’ve always known I was British no matter what.

Half of my family are Scottish, some of them live in Yorkshire, others live in the small town in Northumberland I grew up in and have done for their whole lives. One of my Grandads was a miner, the other was in the police. My Grandma was a dinner lady at the school I spent four years at. My family are as British as they come.

Yet in 2018, deep down, I’m ashamed to British.

As I write this, the United Kingdom is teetering on the verge of a no-deal Brexit. For my generation, all of our options of working in Europe will soon be gone, a quick city break to Paris will become a logistical nightmare, studying abroad may become a thing of the past – and why? Because of Britain. Not because the EU won’t give us what we want, not because it’s been stolen by immigrants, not because of Jeremy Corbyn – because we’re British and we’re the most arrogant nation that ever existed. That is the reality we have to face as we all go plunging into political and economical uncertainty, and it’s shameful.

Once upon a time, this country sent The Beatles to the United States. Now, Tommy Robinson is about to embark on a tour of America. This is not the sort of PR we need right now. And it’s not just Robinson flying the flag of bigotry overseas, with Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage both discovering fame in America for their own brand of populism in recent years.

I recently went to Seville with my girlfriend. We met up with two of her Spanish friends she had met whilst studying abroad. To our horror they had heard of the British woman who had filed a complaint with Thomas Cook because her hotel in Benidorm had ‘too many Spaniards in it’. They found it funny, but at that moment I’ve never felt so uncomfortable to be British. Is this what our country is famous for now?

Just six years ago, back in 2012, we hosted the Olympics. It was a celebration of all things British, from the Industrial Revolution to Arctic Monkeys to someone dressed as the Queen jumping out of a helicopter. It was cheesy but it was a proud moment. Now look at us. We’re sending a man with a criminal history of mortgage fraud on a victory lap across America and complaining when there are too many Spanish people in Spain.

If that wasn’t bad enough, England football fans were recently heard chanting “F*** the Pope” in Seville, as well as inserting “no surrender” into the national anthem. This summer, football actually brought people together in a wave of hope and who can throw their pints the highest. Now it’s once again focused on dividing us. This will be our representation abroad after Brexit.

Now my identity crisis is minuscule compared to that of people from other countries – I’m a straight, white man. I have no idea what it’s like to be a member of the Windrush generation, to have lived in a country all of your life, only to be told you don’t have the right to be here and you must leave for a country you may never have stepped foot in. They’re caught up in our arrogant Empire fantasy once again, and it’s Britain’s fault.

I find myself hoping and praying that Scotland have another referendum on independence, just so, through my Grandparents, I may get a shot at some sort of European citizenship. Anything to get away from being labelled as a British national right now.

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