Thoughts on Brexit and the Spanish Election from a Spaniard living in Scotland


Letters II: Brexit vote had huge impact in Spain’s general election.

I am the proud author of a letter to the editor of the Scottish newspaper The National (crowd cheers)! Here is the full version of the article. 

The night of June the 23rd left me with a dropped jaw and a broken heart. After long months of following a fairly disappointing campaign from both sides, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the darkest sense of tragedy and sorrow. The result seemed to me like a victory for the lack of interest in what I would describe as a clear, transparent truth. It had been from the beginning stated by UK’s main allies that the question Britons were asked on Thursday had one correct answer, as far as economic well-being and political stability were concerned. Still, the result was misled by populism and misinformation and a very chauvinistic, islander-like way of working things out. The EU Referendum, in essence, rather than an exercise of popular sovereignty has been a symptom of Britain people’s endemic ignorance and neglect of their political obligations, and in far too many cases, of a deep underlying hate for the foreign – I am not refraining myself from criticizing anymore, I have been insulted countless times these past few months by a considerable proportion of the population of Great Britain. This reality was dismissed by one side but pointlessly, repeatedly and often inappropriately prevented and warned by the other. Now we will all have to pay a price.

Furthermore, for the past few days as a resident in Dundee, I have been surrounded by a heartbreaking mixture of regret and shame. People have begun asserting that the only sight of the Union Jack repulses them now, insisting on not being included in a you that positioned them alongside England and Wales. If economic and political instability weren’t enough, then Brexit has also been a mine for the accentuation of territorial division. Congratulations “patriots”.

But I am not only a resident in Scotland. And the EU Referendum was not an issue of its own last week. Indeed, it has had a huge impact on the Spanish general election. It isn’t only the British people who have voted out of ignorance, fear, or an outdated attitude. In Spain, we too have had our share. Turns out Britain didn’t invent scaremongering. It has been the weapon of the Partido Popular (Popular Party) in our election as well, used to stem the rise of new political forces and the prospect of a third round of elections. Not to mention our disinterest in morality and politics – and the importance of the existence of a bond between them. It is no surprise that a party facing a record number of charges and convictions of corruption, gathered, too, a record number of seats in congress. However, it was the uncertainty triggered by the outcome of the referendum that added an extra thirteen seats to PP’s collection of undeserved trophies. As it was to be expected, old, established parties seemed like an attractive option to the Spanish people three days after England and Wales voted to leave the union, dragging Northern Ireland and Scotland with them and pushing the pound’s value to a historic low.  This was followed by the systematic fulfilment of the prophecies that the Remain campaign had been accused of scaremongering people with.

Even though I was well informed about Spain’s allergy to democracy and self-determination, I ignored how fatal its strike against Scotland would turn out to be: Rajoy is manifestly opposed to negotiations with Scotland about its potential permanence in the EU, as such negotiations have never before taken place between the European Commission and a region of a member state. – How convenient! For, what a dangerous precedent of the evolution of a democratic organism! What a tempting path laid before Catalonia’s feet! If Scotland’s will to stay in the EU was respected, then Catalonians would most likely have the chance to, at some point in the future, be given the same privileges than Scotland is being given now. They would perhaps realize that independence might be a reasonable, respectable position for them to defend. That they should be outraged because, for years, they were not allowed a word on what they thought they deserved. Even Spaniards could get to think that discussing or performing a change is a routine thing to do that people shouldn’t be scared away from with accusations of extremism or populism. Or even worse: that in a democratic state, pursuing change is nothing to be scared of. The best cure for ambition, after all, is blinding people to their own potential to build a better world.

Nonetheless, I am a European Union citizen that chose to entrust her future in a nation that has welcomed me with open arms. I have to admit, now that it has once more been stated officially and clearly, I never identified that nation as the UK, but as Scotland. If I have ever felt rejected or unwelcomed in this island it has never been under the refuge and the subsidy of the Scottish government and people. I have never before felt left out or been denied my right to vote on issues that directly concern me in the country that I work, reside and study in permanently. I have never been treated as a to-be-cut number amongst a socially poisonous plague of faceless immigrants who don’t deserve acknowledgement for the effort and the contribution they put into this country, the scapegoat for some ghost of economic crisis.

And still today, when turning on the BBC means listening to some unrestrained UKIP supporter speculating on my right to freely and uninhibitedly imagine a future in the country I have grown to love: I am proud and glad I chose to come here. When the reason I moved to the UK is assumed to be some malicious attempt to detriment British nationals, I still feel proud and glad. But what I feel the most pride about is that, while the United Kingdom continues to build itself a narcissistic, xenophobic and inward identity, Scotland, my second home, keeps up with my expectations and the expectations of the majority of the Scottish people. It reasserts its inclusiveness and a very forward way of understanding what it is to be Scottish, what it means to belong here. At least, I know I am going to be fought for and that equips me and all those out there who share my political fate with the courage to say: We are welcome. We are safe.


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