Britons wake up to new reality as half cheer and the other half wails over Brexit

Britons woke up this morning to a new country - one that no longer wants to be part of a larger community that is the European Union.
Nigel Farage (front), the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), reacts with supporters following the result of the EU referendum.
Nigel Farage (front), the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), reacts with supporters following the result of the EU referendum.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON - Britons woke up this morning to a new country - one that no longer wants to be part of a larger community that is the European Union.

In a bitterly fought historic referendum that has split the nation, 52 per cent of the country has said it wants Britain to quit the EU.

While half the country cheered this "independence day", as declared by United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage, others are in shock and disbelief over the decision.

It had seemed that "Remain" had inched ahead in the last round of opinion polls on the eve of polling day. Mr Farage also looked to have conceded an hour after polls closed on Thursday night, when he said it looked like "Remain will edge it".

But over the course of the night, the tide turned against "Remain", when the Midlands and northern England votes were counted and showed an overwhelming desire to leave.

 
 

"I'm in utter shock and dismay," said Mr Simon Ly, 30, who is born and bred in London and voted yesterday for "Remain". "The country I thought I knew, I clearly don't."

Analysts and politicians have pointed out that the result shows the deep dissatisfaction that the electorate has against the establishment. Despite the multiple warnings by experts on the economic consequences of a Brexit, Britons have spoken, and ignored the warnings.

"A lot of people are doing it out of defiance. It's based on feelings, not logic. My utter fear is, who are the new men and women who will take over? We need a leader who will unite this country. I can't see that person in this current political scene," said Mr Ly.

A sense of doom has already hit the markets, with the pound plummeting to US$1.34, the lowest since 1985.

Digital marketing assistant Lauren Rickard's fears came true when she woke up this morning to the news. She, and most of her family members, had voted for "Remain".

 

"I'm very disappointed. I think older voters have, rather selfishly, voted to get a 'quick fix' to their problems without thinking of the long-term implications leaving the EU will have, particularly for younger generations," said the 24-year-old.

EU and Commonwealth citizens living in Britain have also been discouraged by the decision.

"It's sad that the UK rejected the idea of a unified Europe, for all its flaws," said Swede Marcus Wilert, 41, an ethical trade manager who has worked in London for three years.

"As someone who's well-educated and employed, I don't see big changes in my situation but I definitely feel less welcome as a European."

Singaporean entrepreneur Ellen Chew says she is "super disappointed".

"It will affect me, but not now. I need to rethink my expansion plans in the coming years," said the restaurateur who has lived in London for 10 years and is a permanent resident.

Social media reacted strongly to the news, with the hashtags #NotInMyName and #WhatHaveWeDone starting to trend on Twitter. Much of the sentiments on the social media network seem to be of anger and disappointment at the result.

But others hailed the decision. Hani Mustafa said on Twitter: "You have shown people don't take lightly to scare stories and outright lies. Proud day."