Thursday, June 30, 2016

My family and other Brexiteers

I'm on a family holiday. Not an ordinary family holiday - this is one following the EU referendum. With it, a 52% vote for Brexit has brought the Prime Minister's resignation, a Tory leadership contest and a Labour Party coup, which has yet to see a challenger. (Angela Eagle is expected to be that challenger, possibly while I write this piece considering the speed of political news right now.)

Grandma: Leave

My grandmother used to vote Green, and proudly, but that was before the (apparently) irresistible charm of Nigel Farage converted her into a UKIP supporter. She is angrily opposed to the EU and all immigration. "Those Europeans who are already here and have jobs can stay," she stated yesterday, confident in her generosity. "But no more. And no Islamists. They're the real problem." Grandma's take on the refugee crisis was "send them back". "We can't just send them back, Margaret, they'll die!" protested my grandfather. "I don't care, we've had enough," she replied. The Leave campaign's winning hashtag #TakeBackControl was made for her.

Grandpa: Remain

Grandpa John was a journalist, and still thinks of himself as having an investigative mind, constantly inquisitive. He once scathingly told me, "you're the child of a single mother on benefits, don't you think being Labour is just too obvious?" My granddad's shameless and persistent tendency to question people ruthlessly about their views and personal lives, as if he were Paxman and his wife/kids/grandchildren a dishonest MP embroiled in a high-profile scandal, has made each of us cry at some point. Gpa only made his decision at the last minute, dramatically announcing his intention to vote remain on Facebook with a post beginning "To be or not to be. That is the question with which I have been struggling ever since the referendum was announced. Now I must make a decision."

Uncle: Leave

Last Christmas, the whole family was forced to come together peacefully and our mother-daughter unit has been on talking terms with my uncle's five-person nuclear family ever since. This has awarded me with the opportunity to know him better and him the chance to criticise my politics in exactly the same way my grandfather has done for years. Just like Gpa, he prevaricated until polling day. He ended up voting Leave. The reason? "I've received more texts from my daughters in the last three days than I have in the last three years." Basically as a fuck you to his Remainer kids.

Aunt: Unknown

Auntie Imogen, middle class home owner in King's Cross, hates the 'Labourite metropolitan elite' for ignoring working class fears concerning immigration. Whether she voted in or out is unknown to me as she has been at Glastonbury after buying, then losing, then finding her tickets, and is now M.I.A.

Second Cousin: Trump

My mother's American cousin is here from New York. He is sick of us talking about Brexit non-stop. He also thinks Hillary is a bitch and supports Trump...

Mother: Leave

MsMarmite has always wanted to leave the EU, her main reason being "I've lived in France and they're horrible". Advocating the case for #Lexit, she has been in perpetual rows with her Guardianista Facebook friends after committing various faux pas, most notably decrying accusations of Leaver racism and claiming that "very few people are racist".

Me: Remain

Et moi? I've been a Labour Party member since I was 16. The shit my family give me for it, you could not believe. Being a party member is not acceptable among my relatives, all of whom are (or have been) freelance journalists. They are rebels, you see, whereas I am a conformist who simply follows a party line. Hard eye roll.

This has all made for a tumultuous holiday, and the Rodgers family isn't harmonious at the best of times. Just today, Grandma has been upset by the news that Boris isn't running for Tory leader, Gpa is rubbing her face in the view that Brexit will never happen, Mother is screaming "accept your party is over" at me during a sweaty car journey and my mood has indeed been volatile on account of the Labour Party chaos. The Durrells have nothing on us.


Unknown said...

Thank you, Sienna, for this insider's view of a family divided over Brexit...most enlightening. Bravo for standing up for your own opinion! (very impressive!!)

big hugs

Aveek said...

Really enjoyed this