The Unexpected Consequences of BrexitJuly 1, 2016 in Brexit
As the result of the referendum regarding the UK’s membership in the EU begin to sink in it seems more and more people are now at first coming to terms with what it actually means to exit the union. It’s been reported from different sources that supporters of the leave campaign, the so called “Brexiters”, are starting to have regrets. Regarding the many millions of pounds that were said, in the campaign, could be allocated to the NHS instead of the EU in case of an exit it has become clear now that such promises cannot be made. This is just an example, but there are many things that, in light of the actual outcome of the vote, look slightly different from what was described in the campaign. It seems twisted facts, statistics and general numbers were used in campaigns on both sides and it should be no wonder if people feel misinformed or even set up to cast their vote in a certain way. The fact that some who did vote for a Brexit feel disappointed with the outcome of the vote all the same, motivating this with that they didn’t think it would come to this, really says something about the seriousness with which voters have approached the referendum. It almost seems it has been thought of as a trial or a test run, something in which one can cast a vote just for amusement, and which, after it’s clear that the UK has decided to leave the EU, has alarm bells ringing everywhere. It is fair to say that to hold a referendum on things like this, to let the people have a voice, is consonant with democratic values. Of course it is, but then people also need to understand the power of every vote. Or is it that people were fully aware that the economy would take a hit in case of a Brexit, but decided to cast their vote in favour all the same because they simply thought things couldn’t get any worse, and that while things get harder short-term the economic situation will improve in the long run. Many voters from economically depressed regions of the UK, who actually receive significant amounts of EU aid, voted, as it turns out, in favour of a Brexit. The fact that the economy would be negatively affected is no surprise either, the IMF predicted this way in advance of 23 June. The outcome of the referendum is indeed hard to analyse, trying to make sense of peoples’ motivation to vote in certain ways can be quite confusing. One of the most important drivers has been the question of migration, the general desire of decentralised power and for the UK to control its own borders. It seems many voters have focused hard on that, and by doing so all the other effects a Brexit would have on the country have been forgotten. The UK is not the only country where people feel this way, but over the last couple of years across the European Union there has been talks about how the increasingly centralised political power is damaging the sovereignty of nation states. Using this as an argument in a campaign to leave the EU is putting fuel on a fire that is already burning quite bright. The question about an EU membership has been an emotional one for many, and it’s likely that a fair share of the “Brexiters” just want to go back to the way things were before, a form of status quo. Whether or not there will actually be any “old ways” to go back to is questionable though, not only because globalisation is really only going in one direction and it is increasingly harder for nations to get by on their own, but also because the UK itself will likely see internal changes. The decision to leave the EU has sparked up conversation about referendums of independence here and there, causing the United Kingdom to resemble more a soon to be broken kingdom. Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, has said that it is highly likely a second referendum on independence for Scotland will be held amid the outcome of the Brexit referendum. Perhaps the result of such a vote would differ from the first one, held in 2014, as it was clear after 23 June that a majority of the Scottish voters were in favour of remaining in the EU. Sinn Fein also called for a referendum on independence form the UK for Northern Ireland, and a reunification with the 26 counties that make up the republic of Ireland. Considering all the potential negative consequences of the decision that may have been overlooked or at least given less consideration than necessary it is fair to expect that more and more people will have regrets in the near future. A petition to hold a second referendum had gathered millions of signatures in only a few days, and since it passed the minimum requirement of 100 000 signatures Parliament will consider it for debate. As David Cameron who promoted the stay campaign will step down as Prime Minister it will be his successor who will deal with the UK-EU divorce. In other words it will take time before article 50 will be applied and an application for an exit will officially be submitted. The question is whether there will be an opportunity in that time to grant the petitioners a second referendum. Perhaps the Britons will be offered a second chance at having a say in this since it is rather obvious many of the voter didn’t really know what it was exactly they were having a say in, or perhaps they have made their bed, so to speak, and now they’ll have to lie in it.