In June 2016 the United Kingdom voted to leave from European Union. Marieke Evans, art and design student from Scotland, is one of the people that is very unhappy for the decision.
Marieke Evans was born in Glasgow where she still lives right now, although having moved many times during her lifetime. Marieke and her family have lived in The Netherlands for a long period of time, but in 2014 her parents decided to move back to Scotland. 2014 was an important year. Scotland had an independence vote and Marieke still remembers it vividly to this day.
Marieke had no doubts wanting to vote ‘yes’ for Scottish independence. ‘I was, for the first time as a 17-year-old, allowed to cast my voice politically. You wouldn’t believe how politically active it was at my school. Everyone was talking about it. Whether people voted yes or no to independence, the youth were totally fired up for the debate, which can only be a good thing right?’ Marieke explains the voting atmosphere was very high-spirited. Scotland didn’t become independent and is still part of the United Kingdom.
Scotland in Brexit voting
Marieke is against leaving the European Union and she describes Brexit as a sinking ship. Most people in Scotland voted against Brexit, but overall, the United Kingdom voted in favour of leaving the EU. The outcome was 52% supporting Brexit. Marieke believes that if Scotland would have become independent in a first place, it wouldn’t have been part of this great mess.
The current situation seems very chaotic in many ways since no-one really knows what is going to happen next. Marieke is mostly angry about how Brexit was a waste of money and especially how the vote was based on no real evidence: no-one really knew what they voted for. ‘The Leave party campaigned illegally. They spent way more money on their campaign than they were allowed to and they made up statistics right left and center. They openly blamed both immigrants and Brussels, when all the things they were complaining about were things the UK government was in control of,’ Marieke sadly announces.
Marieke explains one of the most classical lies that was told through the Leave campaign. ‘They drove around a huge bus with the slogan: “We spend 350 million on the EU, let’s fund our National Health Service instead” which was a figure plucked out of thin air. Once Brexit was voted for, the leaders of the Leave campaign said they wouldn’t put that money into our health service either way ‘Can you call this a democratic decision?’ Marieke didn’t find anything positive to say about Brexit. ‘It has diverted attention from important issues, and it has stirred up hatred towards immigrants,’ she concludes.
How Brexit will impact
‘The impact would be beyond devastating,’ Marieke says. She is especially worried about Scottish society. ‘The population is only just above 5 million. So, we need more people to come and work and live here and contribute to society. But with Brexit, immigration laws will be very strict. Therefore, it will be difficult to grow our economy grow. Also, when the economy goes down, people will want to leave the country. We won’t be able to attract people because why would they come to Scotland if going to another EU country will make them better off?’
If the economy falls, it will lead to serious problems in the UK. Marieke has read a lot of articles that suggest that if the government will have less money to spend, they will start to cut more services from the public sector. ‘Programs such as breakfast clubs for children living in poverty, disability benefits, benefits in general, child income support, community centers- all of that will go. They are always the first to go, especially with a conservative government in power. Ultimately, and I am not exaggerating, vulnerable people will die from the conditions they will be put in, because of Brexit.’ She explains the public issues.
Personally, Marieke is worried about what will happen to her nationality status. She has an EU citizen nationality because of her previous years in the Netherlands. But if she becomes a UK citizen, which she would have to apply for after Brexit, she may lose her Dutch identity. ‘That has its complications if I want to travel and work abroad in Europe later on,’ she says and continues to her feelings, ‘emotionally it will feel like the government has taken something that’s a part of me away from me. I know that’s dramatic to say, but true at least.’
Theresa May as a leader
All eyes in the world are now watching the negotiations that Theresa May, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, is currently leading. Brexit will come into effect in end of March 2019. Theresa May has been one of the most important persons pushing the Brexit process forward. Therefore, she has given a face to the huge debate. Marieke believes that she is not a strong leader for this case: ‘She needs to open up and negotiate with the whole parliament. It’s not just about her and her front bench team because that’s not a very accurate representation of the UK,’ she explains.
‘Theresa May herself, believe it or not, campaigned to remain in the EU. So why is she leading Brexit now? She should stick to what she knows is right and stop the Brexit process,’ Marieke wonders. The parliament of the UK is still having some disagrees on how Brexit will happen in the end, and that has caused a lot of political uncertainty among people. The parliament will vote about May’s suggestion of Brexit on January 15th. Marieke still believes that a new referendum could save this chaos from happening. ‘Let’s have a referendum not based on lies this time. We can now see the truth for what Brexit is, and what it means for the UK. We can get ourselves out of this mess,’ she hopes.
The beauty in Scotland
For over two years the media has spoken about Brexit and the impacts of it. Maybe now it is the time to give some positive attention to Scotland, which is one ingredient of the great chaos. ‘Scotland is a liberal country. My tuition is free, same as medical prescriptions and eye testings. They put equality on the agenda; they recently made LGBTI school lessons mandatory in the curriculum and they are aiming to abolish period poverty for women, as they have made tampons and sanitary towels available for free in schools and pharmacies. The Scottish parliament is elected in a very democratic way, and half of the parliamentary cabinet identifies as female. Scotland has copied the Finnish baby box idea, meaning that all children have an equal start in life,’ Marieke tells about her life as a Scottish.
Not everything is so good in Scotland though. The Scottish government has a small budget to work with and as being still part of the UK, it controls it a lot. ‘Also, Glasgow used to be the crime capital of Europe. Nothing to be proud of. Gang culture was really big but is now thankfully decreasing. But on the other hand, Glasgow got voted the friendliest city in the UK,’ Marieke states.
Marieke wanted to tell something extra about Scotland: ‘Not everyone in Scotland can play the bagpipe, and not everyone wears tartan. Lochness monster, sorry everyone, is also not real.’
Text: Kukka Andersson, photos: ©Marieke Evans