Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Well… I have had sufficient on-line conversations about the issue of the UK’s (England driven) referendum to leave the EU (European Union)- Brexit. Therefore I will try to articulate a position.
Firstly, I have to admit two important points: 1) I oppose the exit for rather personal economic issues. I earn a reasonable part of my income in Sterling (British Pounds) and therefore am not enjoying the the slide in the value of the currency as a result of political uncertainty. 2) A macabre part of me wants to see a ‘leave’ vote, simply to witness what happens.
Those two points aside, this vote is troubling. I am concerned a referendum does not manage the intricacies of trade deals and common policy.
There are many, many good things about the United Kingdom. I have lived there, enjoyed its people and fully acknowledge its contributions. This noted, it is a country in transition. Many millions feel disenfranchised and often entirely distinct (Wales, Scotland & Ireland). In the post-colonial period the face of Britain has changed and since Europe’s expansion east, immigration onto the island has again changed dramatically. This does mean a significant change in how the UK sees itself, but is certainly not unique within Europe.
Despite its size, the UK is the world’s fifth largest economy and it really matters to Europe and the world.
Watching the nature of this referendum and talking to so many friends and clients on both sides of the debate, I am concerned by the troubling lack of general knowledge about the EU.
Yet putting aside the technical elements of the Union, let looks back 30, 40, 50, or 100 years. Life was not better. Europe was committing genocide around the world while millions lived in misery – or died in wars – in the region. This was not better.
Most British people never enjoyed the benefits and freedoms of sovereignty .. yet now they are marching for it. What does that mean and what does it look like?
I am not sure anyone really knows. We can all criticize the EU for hours, but there is not a clear model of how to improve it. Trade is a must, as is a free moment of people (at least to some extent) as is some form of a charter of human rights.
Living, as I do in Canada, I am an outsider in this debate, but it is important. The Brexit is a cause for worry and economic instability. I worry the anti-Europe rhetoric that played such an important role in British politics over the last number of years is similar to the populist noise that has made Trump’s rise possible in the US.
I worry xenophobia will triumph over the obvious and naturally more integrated future our planet simply requires.
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