A majority of British people have voted for the UK to leave the European Union …
In what had become a very close fought battle of claims and counter claims, the potential result on the day of voting was anyone’s guess. Several polls had put the Leave or Brexit campaign ahead but on the eve of the referendum, another poll had stated that the Remain camp was a few percentage points ahead. For me, waking up on Friday morning to the news that Brexit had won, was both sad and disconcerting.
When I say that the British have vetoed the EU, I’m not being entirely correct. Almost all of England and Wales, excluding London, declared a majority exit vote, but the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland supported remaining in the EU. The country may be known as the United Kingdom but, in reality, it is more divided than ever. Not so long ago, Scotland held a referendum on independence but this was narrowly defeated by its population on the basis of unity. However, now that the same voters have endorsed membership of the EU, it has been announced that a second referendum on possible independence could be held in an attempt for Scotland to rejoin the EU as a separate country. As people will know, Northern Ireland comprises six annexed counties bordering the Republic of Ireland which is, itself, a member of the European Union. With a history of political unrest over the last hundred years, there is a distinct possibility that the two parts of Ireland could once again become one, particularly if being part of the EU is more important to Northern Ireland than to a fragmented United Kingdom.
Previous blogs on the subject have mentioned how the campaign was based largely upon lies and deceit, neither of which are surprising given that it was a political infight. However, whilst claims made by the Remain side were largely endorsed by facts and figures, the Brexit side made sweeping statements, some of which were emblazoned on a campaign bus. One such statement referred to the assumed amount that EU membership cost with a promise that those funds would be redirected to National Health care. It comes as no surprise that such claims are now being vehemently denied by the Brexit victors, clearly illustrating that they have achieved victory by prominent deceit.
Judging by the comments on news and social media, I think the ramifications of the referendum result will be in the headlines for some time to come. The UK has already faced two casualties … the stock market has made unprecedented losses, wiping out billions of pounds in a day and far exceeding EU membership costs, and prime minister David Cameron has resigned, although he will stay in his position until this October. In the event of a Brexit victory, it was almost certain that Cameron would stand down as he put his political career on the line by holding the referendum. He used the promise of the referendum to curry votes in the 2015 General Election and now everything has backfired!
Here are a few of the Brexit claims that won over many voters and the reality of the situation.
- Nigel Farage effectively promised £350m for the NHS but after the result, appeared on national television countering the claim.
- Immigration from across the EU was apparently getting out of hand, notably from former Eastern bloc countries. Actually, the crisis stems from war-torn Syria in the Middle East.
- Foreigners have apparently stolen British jobs. However, without the presence of foreign companies like BMW and Toyota, there would be no jobs. This could soon be the reality as these companies only set up operations in the UK because it was part of the EU. Also, the NHS would be grossly understaffed were it not for immigrants.
- The Single Market will continue. This is highly unlikely in the long term unless the UK makes a considerable financial contribution. It has been stated that the UK is 60% self sufficient in respect of food requirements. That’s all very well but the remaining 40% will have to be imported, almost certainly at greater cost than currently.
- People will still enjoy freedom of movement. That is one of the major benefits of EU integration so it’s likely to be withdrawn once the EU exit is finalised. This could have a serious impact upon young people wanting to study in mainland Europe as well as restrict their future employment prospects.
To the diehard supporters of greater Union within Europe, the impending withdrawal by the UK is akin to a divorce or death of a loved one. The country in which I was born is fast becoming unrecognisable with an influx of right wing extremism, increased racism despite more recent levels of acceptance, more xenophobia and division, and power-hungry, super-rich politicians only out for themselves. In truth, I’m no longer proud to say that I’m British and would be quite happy to divorce myself from the country. As an immigrant in another country, I appreciate the acceptance and warmth offered to me, and the attempts local people make to make one feel at home within the community.
By all accounts, the ‘vision’ of the Brexit team is to restore Britain to its old colonial powers, going it alone and swallowing up anything that gets in its way. The likes of Boris Johnson and Nigel Fromage are sadly delusional as the world has moved on. Through the unity of Europe, people have not only enjoyed seventy years of peace but also helped free former oppressed Eastern bloc countries so that their people can now enjoy a life of freedom. The UK will be stepping back at least fifty years in terms of trade once the exit takes effect and the population will undoubtedly face higher costs of living and taxation. The final referendum result was 51.9% in favour of leaving and 48.1% to remain. Demographic statistics show that the vast majority of people under the age of fifty opted to remain but it was the older voters in majority who supported Brexit. This in itself is tragic as they won’t really experience the long term effects that being outside the EU will bring. It’s the younger generation who will pay the price for what I consider has been a selfish vote.
Long live Europe!