Possibly my favorite class I’m taking this semester in Bath is UK Politics and Government. It’s one of the most exciting times to take a course on UK politics, to say the least. For anyone unaware of the current state of affairs in Britain, last summer there was a referendum held to decide whether the UK should leave the European Union. The result of the referendum was in favor of leaving, and since then Britain has gone through a tumultuous political period. David Cameron stepped down as Prime Minster, Scotland is considering independence once more, and now Theresa May has just called for a snap election (which basically means that every Member of Parliament is up for election in June). Most importantly, perhaps, is that Britain is largely in a state of uncertainty about its future. No one is entirely sure what Brexit means for the country, its economy, or its place in the world. Further, there are questions about what this means for other Europeans countries like France, and what this means for the EU as a whole. The future is quite seriously unknown.
With all of these developments, it is quite interesting living in the UK. As an American, I have been asked more than once about our new administration, but these conversations just as often get turned around as Brexit inevitably comes up. I’ve talked to many people who strongly disagree with the result, but I’ve also heard people explain why they voted to leave. In my UK Politics class, every week we realize just how much this decision complicates what we know about British politics and just how many areas of policy and government it already has, and will continue to influence. As an outsider, it’s fascinating to have these conversations. I don’t doubt that I’d enjoy this class pre-Brexit, but there is something about being in this country as it works through the consequences of the decision that makes the issue feel much less foreign. I feel like I am witnessing firsthand what I would never exactly get from a BBC article. Before coming to Britain, I had people ask why I’d come after the Brexit result. However, I believe that I’m learning about the issue in a much more personal way, even in an academic setting. It will be interesting to see how the rest of Brexit unfolds over the months and years to come, and I hope that students don’t see the decision as a deterrent*, but as an opportunity to see the politics of Brexit in action and hear from British residents about their experiences during this time.
*note: As a person of color, I was a bit anxious coming because anti-immigrant sentiment is part of the discussions about Brexit, but in my personal experience I have not felt unwelcome in the country, nor in any danger (especially because I am from America, which is a privilege on its own). I do understand that this is a serious source of anxiety for others, however, and would be willing to share my experiences.