I have been in London for about a month now, and I arrived just in time to be a part of the crowds huddled together in the pubs screaming for a win in the Euro Football Championship. Alongside this hum of excitement exists a tension and a darkness brought on by the referendum that will decide if Britain stays in the European Union or leaves it entirely.
The Leave Europe campaign includes Britain First campaigners and has been given the nickname Brexit or Britain's Exit. A big supporter of the Leave campaign is former London mayor Boris Johnson who cites a loss of control of British borders, trade and Democracy as reasons for a Leave vote.
The Remain in Europe campaign is defended by London mayor Sadiq Khan and David Bechkam who have discussed the positive contributions of immigration to Britain. The Remain campaign has promoted unity with Europe and the idea that Britain is stronger in the European Union than outside of it.
Some of the darkness and tension surrounding the final referendum vote on June 23rd erupted into violence when Labour MP Jo Cox was killed by a Britain First supporter. Cox openly supported the Remain in Europe campaign as she had worked with African and Syrian communities and saw the benefits of an inclusive Britain.
In the wake of her death mourners are promoting unity within Britain and Europe as hashtags like #moreincommon and #LoveLikeJo are spreading on Twitter. So there is a bit of light and hope being ignited in the UK to counteract any divisive feelings that may have been created by the Leave campaign.
I met some of the hopeful Remain campaigners In the street handing out stickers and posters. They told me that they hoped for a more inclusive Britain with leaders who supported and celebrated the addition of different cultures to the UK. I asked the group what would happen to European Union passport holders like myself who were working in Britain if the Leave vote won. Would I be kicked out of the country straight away or would I be exempt from an expulsion of European Passport holders as I had entered the country before the big vote?
They said that this was one of the confusing aspects of the Leave campaign as these details had not really been worked out yet. They also wondered what would happen to the countless British expats living and working throughout Europe.
The city of London is definitely a multicultural one that has developed with the movement of migrants to the area. I can hear the chatter of Italians and Russians in the street. My landlady talks about the good work that her Italian gardener and her Polish builder have done for her.
As a Canadian and European passport holder I am here to support the country by filling a labour shortfall for teachers. Many migrants are here to work hard and contribute to Britain and dispel the narrative of the migrant taking advantage of the British system.
It is obvious that Britain is feeling the strain from migration. But as Sadiq Khan says, Britain does not have to leave Europe to fix its immigration issues. Britain can remain in the EU while instituting immigration and economic reforms.
By remaining it can build an image of a country that takes care of migrants that need help rather than one that shuns those in need for its own nationalistic agenda. The future of Britain depends upon this vote. I'm crossing my fingers for a vote to remain in the European Union. Are you?
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