Why we are part of the Brexit problem - and what to do

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11:30 CEST+02:00
It’s been a long night, and for those of us Brits who have made our lives elsewhere in Europe, it will be a long road ahead writes The Local's managing editor James Savage.

While some people in Britain will rejoice at the country leaving the EU, we face an uncertain future.

We’ve been told by David Cameron that there will be no “immediate” consequences for us. Honestly, when a political decision affects your entire future, that’s not good enough.

But the problem is that the British people voted in large numbers to stop immigration from the European mainland. The way these things work, Europe will only grant rights to British citizens that Britain grants to other Europeans.

But for many of us, this result doesn’t just raise worries about our futures (though some of us have even secured dual nationality for just this eventuality).

No, this is a vote for a Britain that is turning in on itself and turning its back on globalisation, and that should concern us on another level entirely.

This is a vote for an island that sees people like us, living in a borderless, cosmopolitan world, as a problem in need of a solution. And for everyone who thinks this in Britain there are many across Europe and beyond who think in the same way.

And the truth is that there are losers in a globalised world. And in our rush towards our more cosmopolitan future, we all too easily forget those who lose out economically or who just find these changes frightening.

It’s no coincidence that older people were apparently overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit, while younger people wanted to stay.

So what to do now? The challenge is daunting: to stop our descent into a really ugly future, in which extremists like Farage, Trump and Le Pen are calling the shots in our once so free and liberal countries. 

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I have no idea how this can be done, but I do know this: we, the winners of globalisation, have to understand why large parts of society detest us and the liberal society we live in.

And to find ways to work to a better future in which they, and we, have a stake. Part of this is economic, part of it is cultural.

Either way, it’s our job to work together to find a way through this, or our bright, prosperous future could evaporate more completely than we can comprehend.

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