HistoryResearch and Facts

Agree or Disagree — Brexit Is History in the Making

brit_flagIs this the end of globalization? The end of the EU? Perhaps the end of the world as we know it?

People are lining up on both sides to judge, mock, celebrate, condemn — and it’s only been a couple of days. But everyone is suddenly an expert on what this small island country should have done. I say, Keep Calm and Love British. Pour yourself a cuppa and give them, oh, I don’t know, maybe a week to settle into their newly voted independence.

Just heard an NPR report that said the vote to leave the EU was cast by the less educated, older people of Britain and that the younger, more informed Brits voted to stay in the EU. Then they interviewed a woman in her 50s who was a very savvy banker. She voted to exit even though it would be tough in the short term, with reasons of wanting control of British law, economy, and immigration back in British hands. And the younger people on the Underground (the “tube”) who were interviewed said merely that the older generation had screwed them by voting to exit. When asked the consequences, they said that it would be harder for them to travel around Europe (aw!! poor things) and that the older generations just weren’t very tolerant of people of other ethnicity. But they couldn’t articulate very well their reasons for staying no matter how many ways the reporter asked them the question and tried to make them seem thoughtful. It rather put the lie to NPR’s generalization about educated vs. non-educated voters.

The Netherlands may be next with Nexit and France with . . . well, they could come up with something quite colorful that I won’t write here.

And now, a couple days after the historic vote, it’s rather cool to see other European nations supporting the Brits and putting the blame for the Brexit wear it belongs, firmly on the shoulders of the EU officials. BBC:

“European newspapers see the UK Brexit vote as a serious blow to European unity and a warning that EU politicians must address widespread economic pain.

There is a general view that Europe is struggling with a dramatic turning point in its history.
‘Everything has changed’

The front page of France’s Le Figaro says ‘everything has changed’ because of the UK vote. Its editorial makes a criticism – echoed widely in the European press – that the EU has become too remote from voters.

This is ‘the end of Europe as we knew it’, writes Philippe Gelie, and the EU must ‘review everything – methods, objectives, and participants’, in order to save itself.

Le Monde’s editorial sees the vote as the response of those “abused by globalisation… which in Europe is represented by the European Union’.

It warns European leaders that if they do not address the decline in wages and public services that many Europeans associate with migration, populists will continue to tempt voters with their ‘miracle cures – or worse’. See the BBC article here for more: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36629063

Ultimately, history will judge the British on whether this was the right move for their country. But right or wrong, this was a vote, an honest referendum by a country whose majority wants it to go in a different direction than that in which it has been going. And that’s their prerogative.

However, there are a lot of pundits and other opinionated folks who seem to think the majority should have shut up and sat down. I have a good, thoughtful friend who has shockingly labeled these 52% of the British voting populace as “bigoted, narrow, and backward looking” because she doesn’t agree with what this sovereign nation wants to do. And she thinks Scotland should pick up their marbles and go home, too — meaning exit the UK (Scexit??). The Scottish have been talking of doing that long before the UK’s EU troubles. And I for one wish the Scots the very best if they decide to break off their union with the UK, because that’s the right of the Scottish people and should not be judged by anyone not living there, feet-on-the-ground.

I hope people will untwist their knickers and give the people of the UK (“the lone wolf” as the British Isles has now been called) a chance to see if this works for them rather than condemning them for trying to control their own destiny. I raise my tea cup, my pint, and my bag of Maltesers to the Brits. And I will end with this German newspaper’s sweet headline (though it may have been written ironically, who cares?):