Where have the values of London 2012 disappeared to in Brexit Britain?

Faces filled with happiness as a sea of red, white and blue inundated Britain’s streets as the Olympic torch paraded Britain’s streets, a moment many will cherish for life.

As the torch made its way to the Olympic Stadium, millions witnessed the pride of Britain. Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony “Isle of Wonders” encapsulated the prowess of Britain like never before. Britain was brought together by patriotism at its greatest.

Five years on and Britain has never been so divided, split between leavers and remainers. The friendly, patriotic values which we once held have been converted into prejudicial, nationalist rage. It is incredible that one vote could change the entire nation over a minuscule period of time.

You might think that London 2012 is irrelevant from Brexit. But it isn’t. London 2012 is a milestone which we can look back to and compare with the present. What has changed in five years? What values did we experience in 2012, and which values have we lost from Brexit?

The Opening Ceremony: the UK’s industrial prestige was flaunted to the world

Post-Brexit: a fall in the UK economy, inwards looking

Danny Boyle’s Isle of Wonder begun with Britain’s rapid industrialisation of the 19th century; determined workers swiftly building up booming industries, particularly the iron industry, forming the prestigious Olympic rings out of British iron, raising their heads with pride as the rings showered with glory. And quite rightly. Britain’s rapid industrialisation has led us to the economic standing we view today as one of the wealthiest nations in the world – it is a central part of British heritage and pride.

Yet, Brexit is quite the opposite.

Britain has forgotten its economic prowess and has decided to step backwards. Brexit is ironic; we are losing our economic power by shunning away our biggest export destination: the EU. Brexit Britain has already begun to ruin our economy and will continue to do so. Trade deals cannot simply be drawn instantaneously.

As EU immigrants leave prospect-ridden Britain, industries are failing to replace them as the British unemployed do not put themselves forward. The grit and determination from the Industrial Revolution has deteriorated with regards to some of the present day British working class. You asked for ‘British jobs for British workers’ – what’s the hold up?

The Opening Ceremony: a celebration of the NHS and all its staffs’ hard work

Post-Brexit: failure to keep to £350m promise, continuation of poor performances due to not enough investment, talks of privatisation, a rise in the departure of EU NHS workers

The Opening Ceremony also featured a delightful tribute to the NHS, which Danny Boyle described as ‘urgent and necessary and believed in by our people’. It celebrated the staff, inviting fifty NHS workers to participate in the Opening Ceremony. Dedicating airtime watched by millions across the globe to the NHS emphasised the importance of our wonderful free British healthcare – something which many across Britain could not be more proud of.

But in comes Brexit. Promise of £350 million, plastered over Vote Leave’s bus, was backtracked on – a fundamental part of many Leave voters. By 2022/23, the NHS will fall £20 billion short on funding targets due to failed promises. To add to further difficulties, more than 1,000 European doctors are thinking of leaving the UK due to Brexit, amounting to a 190,000 job gap in the NHS by 2027.

Are the Tories unaware of the huge atrocities they are committing? Do they not understand how important Europe and Europeans are to the NHS ? Do they not remember the glorious celebration which we all shared five years ago?

The Opening Ceremony: a celebration of the different groups

Post-Brexit: sending away EU nationals as they do not feel welcome in the UK, a rise in EU and non-EU discrimination

Not only did the Opening Ceremony bring together athletes of all nationalities, cultures and religions, it also featured a celebration of the first Caribbean immigrants settling in the UK in 1948. Next to them the Suffragettes and members of the Jarrow Crusade.

Here we saw a celebration of Britain’s diversity, the start of a move towards a fairer society.

Post-Brexit, we witness the exact opposite; inwards-looking, isolation, prejudice, and a violation of democracy. Not only has hate crime against EU citizens increased, but so has hate crime against non-EU citizens. EU nationals, working in both the private and public sector; teachers, farmers and scientists are are leaving the UK because they do not feel welcome.

Where is Britain of the 20th century? When we gave women equal rights to vote, when we applauded those who stood up for what they believed in?

We have to remember; we all celebrated the electrifying moment when Mo Farah won two gold medals in 2012. This has been followed up by a Sports Personality of the Year win this year. But Brexit Britain reaches a paradox considering the national love for the British, Somali-born immigrant is lost amongst a sea of hatred in Britain.

And what will come for the golden woman of the pool in 2012. Ruta Meilutyte is from Lithuania, but trains in Plymouth. At the age of 15, she won a gold medal in the 100m breaststroke final at London 2012, and she has continued to win an abundance of major medals since.

The Opening Ceremony: Seb Coe – ‘Welcome to London…I have never been prouder to be British’

Post Brexit: Sadiq Khan desperately attempting to persuade Europe that London is still open (even though London will not get a special trade deal with the EU), Lord Coe has remained quiet over Brexit

Seb Coe finished the Opening Ceremony by telling the world: ‘Welcome to London…I have never been prouder to be British’. It is predicted that 900 million people across the globe tuned in to the Opening Ceremony, whilst two million were welcomed into London across the entirety of the Games.

However, in Brexit Britain, those 900 million are welcome no more because 17 million voted to scrap freedom of movement, prohibiting Europeans from exploring the wonders of Britain, and halting Britons exploration to the wonders of Europe. Furthermore, London is facing an economic crisis, losing tens of thousands of financial sector jobs to other EU nations. Respect has to be payed to Sadiq Khan, who is desperately attempting to persuade Europe that London is still open (even though Khan has been told that London will not gain a special trade deal with the EU). Since Brexit, Lord Coe has remained silent on the issue. However, one would hope he would support liberal Conservatives such as Anna Soubry. And I would plead with those who voted Leave or Conservative to listen to those like Soubry. We should welcome our European neighbours instead of isolating ourselves as a tiny island.

The aims of London 2012: inspiring Britain’s youth

Post-Brexit: the youth have had their futures taken away from them (the majority of students voted Remain)

The motto of the Games was ‘Inspire a Generation’, showcased with the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron by Britain’s most promising athletes.

Yet 85% of students voted Remain in the referendum, and two-third of young people want to halt Brexit. With a restriction of freedom of movement imminent, and a downgrade in the UK’s economic forecast, Brexit does not reflect the values pushed by London 2012. Brexit does not inspire a generation. Brexit is seen as doom and gloom by the next generation.

When I look back at London 2012, I see prosperity, harmony, pride amongst Britain and its people. But now, I look at Britain with sadness. Brexit has devastated and will continue to devastate this country because it is a total rejection of those values we shared in London 2012.

I do not blame the 52% who voted Leave in June 2016. However, as a democracy, we have the right to change our minds when new information is brought to us. And, hopefully, this article does that and more. The EU is not our enemy. It is a source of prosperity which we must cherish. It brought peace and harmony after World War II. It enriches the British soil, British idustry and the British people. Let us not Leave, but stay together.

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Josh Owen

Josh is a History graduate from The University of Manchester.

Josh Owen has 5 posts and counting. See all posts by Josh Owen

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