By now you probably have heard about the historic general referendum vote in Britain, popularly known as Brexit. In a narrow and bitterly divisive vote, the Brits decided to exit the European Union.
So what’s the fuss about? Why should we even care?
Britain is the first major country to depart from the EU, which was created after World War II as European countries sought economic unity. There has long been debate over whether Britain gets much out of the EU—Britain uses the pound, not the euro, has opted out of votes, is subject to costly regulations and loses some sovereignty under the EU.
Here a few things to think about in regards to Brexit.
1) Brexit puts the future of the EU in jeopardy
Congressmen on Capitol Hill and economists worldwide are concerned about the state of the EU and the continued impact of Brexit.
Political analysts and academics warn that Brexit could create a domino effect, encouraging other countries to do the same and threatening the stability of the EU. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for unity, stressing the “need to make sure the European people feel that the EU wants to improve all our lives.”
2) Brexit puts a strain on U.S. foreign affairs
Back in April, President Barack Obama warned that Brexit would put the U.K. at the “back of the queue” for trade deals should they vote to leave the EU. Now that Britain has voted to leave, Obama says the decision won’t hurt the relationship with Britain. But we have yet to see how this will impact the global economy and foreign affairs.
3) We’ve seen immediate economic impacts but the future is unknown
Just hours after the announcement of the narrow vote, oil prices started to tumble and the British pound dropped to a 31-year low. Additionally, London’s stock exchange index dropped $164 billion within only the first 10 minutes of trading. Following the vote’s verdict, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation. So now people are also wondering who will be the next political leader of Great Britain.
4) Brexit threatens the future stability of the U.K. itself
Forget the impact on the global economy for a moment–which is itself quite huge. Scotland and Ireland were overwhelmingly in support of remaining in the EU. In the past, Scotland has voted on whether or not to remain in the U.K. at all or to become an independent Scotland. For many who voted in 2014 to stay, the choice was dependent on the U.K. remaining in the EU. Now that Britain is leaving, perhaps Scotland will, too.
If the U.K. begins to dissolve, we’ll have even more problems in the global economy.
5) But the choice may be good for Britain
Britain ultimately decided that economic independence was more important than European unity—perhaps this was the best choice for them. Republican Congressman Mark Meadows on the Foreign Affairs Committee shared his thoughts with me today: “I do think economically it’s probably a good decision for Great Britain. The real danger is, if other countries that are stronger economically pull out, then we’ll see the unwinding of the European Union.”
In many ways, the EU functions like the UN — it’s a large scale force operating over nations and countries. The EU also provides a certain degree of collective security, as member countries frequently cooperate on military action and intracontinental policing, including counterterrorism measures. But perhaps it was best for Britain to distance itself from the economic decisions of countries like Germany, a financial hub in Europe.
Ultimately, we should recognize the significance of popular sovereignty in today’s voting results. The people used their legal right to vote.
But we should also be aware of one last thing.
Google announced that search results in Britain skyrocketed today as Brits searched what the EU even is…after voting. Were the Brits voting without even knowing what they voted on? Maybe Brexit would have been different with just a few more Google searches.
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Photo Credit: The Express