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COMMENT: Notes from a much, much smaller Island

The mood on the Northern line is dismal to say the least. This morning's announcement of the UK's Brexit vote hit Londoners like a bad hangover. Surely some paracetamol and a flat white will reveal otherwise...

The passengers across the tube carriage are all checking and refreshing the news apps on their phones, posting messages in chat threads, leafing the Metro for signs of a miscount. Shellshock doesn't cover this: the metaphor is simultaneously too melodramatic and insufficient to cover this melancholy. Denial, disbelief and total absence of emotional response. The early signs of a collective depression.

Londoners are holding out for signs of mistakes. Perhaps the flooding messed up the count. Or maybe it's all a hoax. Spitting Image and Private Eye will finally come out and reveal the punchline as the puppeteers for Farage, Gove and Johnson beam cheekily at us all from behind the caricaturesque dolls.

I picked up my coffee from Paul bakery in South Ken station, where the French staff from the local embassy and the Lycee go. The bewildered manager calls to the barista "6 orders for flat whites!", shaking his head helplessly. "Je n'ai jamais vu ca!" he grumbles. Everyone wants an extra shot of caffeine. A collective hit to numb the morning's misery, or perhaps wake us out of the bizarre reverie of an island floating off into a mist of obsolescence.

Meanwhile Farage's 4am speech is retweeted and published on news sites and quoted in the morning papers. He gloats that this "Independence Day" was won "without a shot fired". I suspect Brendan Cox, husband of the late Jo Cox, the MP gunned down mercilessly for "betraying Britain", might beg to differ. But what's one little shooting in this brave new world? 

I don't want to caricature the Leave campaign too shamelessly here; there is more to it than the clown-car of rabble rousing and nationalism we've seen from its leaders. I too have expressed my ire at the nonsensical behaviour of the EU and the legitimacy of Eurosceptic politics. Let's not rubbish the 72% turnout on this vote: it's at least a success for political participation, if a silver lining is to be found.

And God knows we need one.


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