I have to admit that despite editorializing in favor of Brexit from a progressive point of view last week that I felt sick all night Thursday and all day Friday because of the outcome. To conceptualize something is different than to actually see it happen – I found myself all the way until kickoff of Saturday’s EURO 2016 clash between Northern Ireland (who voted to REMAIN) and Wales (who voted to LEAVE) feeling knots in my stomach. It seems the world we knew and the world I operate in personally has changed irrevocably thanks to one referendum on a single day of voting. Would this one act send the world spiraling into economic depression including the end of globalization and usher in a new era of tribalism? While this is a foreign affairs matter its impact on the USA and Florida I feel could be massive.
I have always supported the self-determination of people’s within the United Kingdom which is why I supported the idea of a referendum and is among the reasons I continue to support Scottish independence and the reunification of Ireland. The irony of this referendum is that those latter two hopes which have long seemed faint now appear somewhat inevitable in the long term if not the short term.
The reality of Brexit is despite the snap reaction of markets we have no idea what is going to happen long-term. Speculation is rife, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime scenario, the single biggest geopolitical event since 9/11. The foreign policy establishment on both sides of the Atlantic tend to have very little variety in their views on a number of subjects, this included. While the gloom-and-doom projected by those elites might in fact come to pass we have no historical evidence to back up such claims – thus events going forward must be viewed as fluid and decisions made by whomever ends up picking up the pieces of political leadership in the UK as critical.
Scotland and Wales benefit more from EU membership in my opinion than England does. As the United Kingdom, a manufactured country comprising four nations grapples with the decision of its voters, it is perfectly reasonable for the state to break up into four or even more parts (England being split between London and the north potentially down the road). Change is never easy but in many cases it’s been forced by elites – in this case the people are rebelling against the elites and this makes the movement which at the very least takes the UK out of the European Union but might well lead to breakup of the country far more organic than many media and political types want to acknowledge.
Many millennials seems to think Brexit is the end of the world as we know it and want to cast aspersions on those who voted for the referendum, calling them racists and fostering resentment toward older voters who have taken
I have always had a problem with those in Britain who would forsake their identity for the phony manufactured feeling of being “European.” The other day I wrote this and I believe strongly the reaction to the Brexit vote in some circles especially among young people and Guardian readers reflects this:
Britain suffers from almost constant condescension from European elites and journalists. I’ve witnessed this again these past few weeks around the Euro 2016 football tournament which has become a focal point for hooliganism and right-wing political organizing. The quick reflexive reaction from European journalists and the French authorities when the violence began ten days ago was to blame the English or the Welsh. Only later was it conceded that Russian right-wing political leaders and perhaps even the Putin Administration had a role in the ongoing trouble as did right-wing groups from other Eastern European countries who happen to be in the EU. But condescension toward Britain from European elites is nothing new – in fact looking down on Britain (and the United States) is in many ways how you are accepted as “continental,” “european” and “sophisticated” in some of the circles I’ve run in throughout my life. People from the British Isles will always be looked down upon I fear among the elites that govern Europe and dominate the conversation about Europe.
I don’t support the idea of British youngsters feeling more continental and European than English. I saw numerous posters saying “I’m European not British” from younger stay supporters. For me British culture is unique and the efforts to undermine it for some sort of greater “European” feeling or the perceived sophistication that comes with “continental” thinking would undermine the very history and cultural identification of the country is unwise. That was part of the reason I flipped from opposition to Brexit to soft support.
Brexit is a bad deal for London and the areas surrounding the capital. But for years the growing gap between London and the industrial English cities of the north such as Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Sunderland have been growing and resentment has increased. While millennials might want to blame racism for Brexit’s passing, the anti-Polish and anti-immigration sentiment that fuels UKIP support probably at MOST amounts to 30-35% of voters – and that is a very liberal number. The reality is the policies of political elites, the fear of austerity measures and the general letdown of the EU’s positive impact for the north of England were arguably greater factors in Brexit’s passage.
In the short term, the Northern Irish/Irish border will need to secured. This goes against the spirit of the Good Friday accords and could lead to a reunification of Ireland. Even hardened unionists such as MP Ian Paisley Jr. the son of the late Ian Paisley MP seem to be softening in the wake of the stunning Brexit vote.
My advice is if you are entitled to second passport then take one. I sign off lots of applications for constituents https://t.co/oWoiVIFF8A
— Ian Paisley (@ianpaisleymp) June 24, 2016
While Paisley Jr. still cannot be confused for a Republican, even he and other Unionists likely realize that the Brexit vote could be disastrous for the long-term future of the six ulster counties in the United Kingdom. The freedom of movement between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will now at least in theory be severely restricted and a people once again divided artificially.
Britain saved the continent from disaster by being the lone Western European nation to resist the Nazi scourge in World War II. It was the one nation whose mass of right-wing politicians didn’t see the benefits of collaboration with Hitler (unlike most notably France whose right-wing Anglophobe politicians gladfy sold out the French Republic and in their own way admired Hitler and fascism) . It’s often forgotten that Hitler offered Britain favorable peace terms to stop fighting after the Fall of France. The idea of a peaceful and united “European Union” only exists because of British resolve and determination in those dark times – Britain’s finest hour as Sir Winston Churchill correctly labeled it. The world and Europe conveniently turning its back on Britain as it works through this situation isn’t fair or wise – after all the UK as it is currently constituted still has the world’s fifth largest economy. But given the snap reactions to Brexit, I fear overreaction is trumping cooler heads. The situation is fluid and it’s wise for the doomsayers to wait – they could very well be right about this being an apocalyptic event but we have no real empirical evidence yet that it will be.