Brexit and what it means for Europe, Britain and Ireland.
Britain has voted. Cameron has resigned. The pound has dropped to a 31 year low and all hell has broken loose on social media. That’s the two second summary, the full implications of Brexit will take another two years to be fully realised.
One thing is for sure though. Nationalism has won this referendum. Nigel Farage and far right conservatives used immigration as a tool to further their own agenda for an independent United Kingdom. There is an irony to it. With the Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon preparing her country for their own referendum on independence, and Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister, calling for a Border Poll, it may well be that England has also left the “UK” if Welsh nationalism catches the bug. With the dissolution of the United Kingdom, it will be England to face the repercussions of
One of those repercussions is the damage that this vote may inflicted upon the European Union’s legitimacy. From its conception, the EU has moved towards greater integration and cooperation. Britain leaving has unraveled that pattern by using the EU’s motto of ‘United in Diversity’ as a rallying call to leave.
BrExit has thrown out the right to free movement of people, goods, services and capital. Instead in favour of more border control discrimination based on nationality; phenomena strictly prohibited by those founding principles, and the dishonestly alleged £350 million being saved a week for leaving the union.*
Britain will not gain from leaving, but the bigger picture is that the whole EU experiment could be beginning to crack.
The rise of populist movements of the political extremes and the certain depression that Europe is heading towards are the two horsemen of European conflict. The very reason that European cooperation was established was to avoid the horrendous world wars that wracked the early 20th century and now, using populist nationalistic ideals remarkably reminiscent of Hitler, Nigel Farage has called the 23rd June the UK’s Independence day.
With the EU still recovering from the global recession, and struggling to cope with the immigration crisis created by ISIS and a resurgent nationalistic Russia,
BrExit couldn’t come at a worse time. Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, both leading presidential polls in France and the Netherlands this morning, reacted with joy calling for referendums in their own countries. The EU seems to taking itself down from the inside out.
However, Britain is the Guinea Pig here. Never before has a member state left. There isn’t precedence and Article 50 which describes the process of an exit is uniquely vague. One thing is for certain. There is a two year period for negotiation once Article 50 is officially enacted by Britain. After that, all EU directives stop applying and Britain leaves the single market. Pro-Brexiters want to delay enacted Article 50 to let unofficial negations take place to get a better deal for Britain. However Europe is not feeling generous, with Britain likely to be made an example of for leaving, ensuring that France and the Netherlands understand the consequences of an exit.
Whatever about the Union, Ireland faces a much more easily definable future. As Britain is our main trade partner, any introduction of tariffs would have a huge impact on our agri-based economy. Anyone remember the Economic War with Britain in the 1930’s? While this may be initially offset by investment from international corporations moving their main office to what is now the only English speaking country in the EU, it is not, in the long run, a sustainable economic plan.
Ireland could also see the introduction of an EU border, potentially reversing the peace process and once again making the border important after years of barrier removal.
So what’s the prediction? My guess is that the Britain will leave the EU but negotiate to be able to trade in the single market, thereby having to adopt all of the EU’s regulations on trade, while paying Brussels for the privilege. One thing is certain: Cameron is regretting betting the membership to the EU as a way to placate his party back benches.
*Follow this link to see backtrack on one of the key promises.