Well, this is awkward. #Brexit is happening. In other words, the UK has voted to leave the EU in yesterday’s EU referendum. History is happening today. The future, uncertain.
Since I consider myself a European, in popular start-up terms an enthusiast, I am very sad about the result. However, I am actually not particularly worried about visa requirements, the economy or some other prominent issue. Those things will be sorted out – sooner or later – through agreements or deals. I am more concerned about the symbolism. Nationalism, xenophobia, and populism is on the rise, so the democratic powers have to find a way to overcome this troublesome time. And I believe only a few want to see another major conflict.
“Cameron’s out, Labour chief’s out, pound is down, Northern Ireland might pursue independence, so may Scotland, BofE’s printing money and Europe says bring it on! What a day!”
to quote a friend of mine
“We have woken up in a different country”
“It didn’t quite go as planned” – Translation: I may have caused irreversible damage on a monumental scale
— VeryBritishProblems (@SoVeryBritish) June 5, 2016
One (great) Nation? Multiple personalities?
A nation truly divided? England always wanted to be a great (super)power. It still has the UK and it’s commonwealth. For now.
As the referendum showed, the nation, hereby I mean the UK, is truly divided. Scots and Northern Ireland want to stay in the EU. So does Greater London – more or less. What is going to happen? How long can the big island(s) up north cope with multiple personalities?
As of right now, England failed at building it’s great British Empire, what is now the Commonwealth, and it failed at building Europe. Maybe not such a great nation after all.*
Instead of being part of a great power with influence on a global scale, the European Union, England chose to wander of, alone. Well yes, the Commonwealth still kind of exists, a loose association of countries that have some historical relation to Britain. Fair enough. A bit awkward, though. Long-distance relationships are always beneficial. Surely.
Source: The Guardian, June 23, 2016
* But hey, I am German, so what can I say, right? As said above, however, I see myself as European and hope for further European integration.
One concern – however subjective – for the leavers was the fact that they do not want to spend money on the EU and that the union is burning money. To be fair, the EU does waste money, but it is kind of hypocritical to almost literally burn money to hold a referendum, possibly more, leave the EU with all its implications and hold new general elections. Just to prove a point?
Youth in Revolt?!
Results from yesterday and today clearly showed that the younger people want to remain in the EU. I believe this is, partly, because they experienced advantages first hand. From school exchanges and work permits as part of the freedom of movement in the EU, to sporting events and the digital spheres. One key aspect in the adoption of innovation is trainability, after all (c.f. Rogers).
Now that the youth has to live with the consequences, and the older folks probably not so much, I wonder if they will revolt. The French would be quicker on the streets, for sure, but the Brits won’t stay quiet, I hope.
Source: The Guardian, June 23, 2016
“The younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the full extent of the lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied. Freedom of movement was taken away by our parents, uncles, and grandparents in a parting blow to a generation that was already drowning in the debts of our predecessors.”
It has to get tougher, before it gets better
No matter how tough the Brexit will be, it is also a chance for Europe, for the EU, to do better. Without the UK. Maybe it is actually for the best. Britain has delayed and vetoed on so many accounts, so the EU could foster the integration of the remaining remembers – as well as new ones.
Furthermore, as a lot of Brits don’t actually see themselves as Europeans, maybe we should strive for a further European integration with those that actually want. A European identity cannot be pushed. This possibly applies more to the older folks as many of my friends from the UK quite support the European idea, as mentioned about. But still. Maybe it is a chance.
— Jonas Wendler (@JonasWendler) June 18, 2016
The UK as tourist hotspot?
Once the UK left the EU and it’s an ‘independent’ island again, tourism might bloom. As far as I heard, islands are still a hot destination for tourists. With the economy potentially going down, London might get cheaper and without proper economic development it could become a rare, calm retreat. Digital detox is on the rise, after all.
A serving of irony with sarcasm and cynicism.
Simple majority enough?
One might argue that for such a historic decision, with unforeseen consequences, it would be better to require a two-third majority, not a marginal simple majority. But as we all know, every form of democracy has their pros and cons. It is a decision and we have to accept it.
Once the UK, or England, experiences the consequences and decides to re-enter the EU, there will only be one choice. To go all in.
— Chappatte Cartoons (@PatChappatte) June 22, 2016
Note: I am well aware that the interchangeable use of Britain, England, or the UK, is not per se correct. But who cares, the UK might no exist next year. Right?