I was born in England (in glorious carpet-making Kidderminster, birthplace to former Prime Minister Walter Nash, and home to the mighty Kidderminster Harriers FC). I came to Wellington when I was ten, and apart from a very brief, foolish and extremely expensive wager against the All Blacks at Eastern Hutt Primary School in Standard Four, New Zealand has had my loyalty. My dad is a Scot, my mum is a Kiwi, but despite growing up on the other side of the world, I have always retained my deep-seated, innate fondness for Britain. I’ve been back many times and I’ve always thought of the UK as a very familiar but still slightly foreign country. Not home, but perhaps the next best thing. Put it this way: I unhesitatingly cheer for the All Blacks and the Blackcaps against all comers, but every four years some cruel part of my DNA still hopes against hope that the English football team can live up to their tabloid hype and win the World Cup. I'm still trying to find some way to get that fixed and in the meantime to get excited about Aston Villa’s away fixtures next season.
So it’s as both a British citizen and a New Zealander that I feel so deeply disappointed and profoundly saddened by today's EU referendum vote. Let's be honest: in political science we almost certainly overdo the earthquake metaphors, but this really does feels like a moment when tectonic plates are shifting. Events are fast moving, things are really complicated and hard to interpret. At this stage it’s hard to know quite what has driven the ‘Leave’ vote over the line (is it fears of ‘rampant’ immigration? Deep-seated frustration with elites? The EU’s democracy deficit? Disillusion with globalization and deeper economic integration?). Plenty of people who seemed to be doing OK out of closer integration also voted LEAVE. It’s difficult to know what this means for the British, European or world economies, but it’s hard to see any particularly happy news. It’s also hard to know what it means for EU-like regional integration projects the world over (although no-one’s tried to leave ASEAN yet, at least as far as I know).
But there are three things that strike me about this vote, as I write (not too long after the result), late on a Friday night.