Dinner last night in Budapest. A table of lovely, young, hopeful people from every corner of the continent, sharing a meal in a pavement cafe and talking together in the only language they all had in common – English.
The history of Hungary is the usual European, blood-soaked tapestry of a thousand years of conflict, culminating in a tumultuous 20th century. The Nazis, the holocaust of Hungarian Jewry, then hyper-inflation, the Communists, the uprising and finally the rebirth of the Hungarian Republic, peace and freedom within the EU.
A week on after Brexit I still feel sick to my stomach over what has happened. I voted Tory at the last election and am now consumed with anger and hatred towards them. I will never forgive them for inflicting this catastrophe on our country. I feel sad for a generation of young British people whose seat at that table has now been taken away.
I’ve spent the last 15 years travelling between the great cities of Europe on business. On the whole I found the experience exhilarating. While living in Nottingham I was a director of a French company based in Paris. Some of the streets of Milan are as familiar to me as those of Nottingham.
I suppose that makes me one of the out-of-touch, metropolitan elite who have only gained from our membership of the EU. Certainly I have yet to meet anyone who will admit to voting to leave. I clearly don’t mix in the same circles as these people.
Kazuo Ishiguro, the most “English” novelist of our time, has articulated exactly what I am thinking in a measured piece in the FT.
I hope that, eventually, I will get over this and start to make the best of our new reality. But right now, I see only years of pain and division ahead of us.