There wasn’t much else I could say this morning, I must confess, better eloquence simply was not forthcoming when I saw the results of yesterday’s referendum. For those who are blissfully unaware of the current goings-on in the United Kingdom, a referendum was held yesterday on Britain’s membership of the European Union and the result was in favour of the UK leaving.
By a margin of 52% to 48%, the UK voted for Brexit and, as such, has cast the whole of Britain and the European Union into complete chaos. European leaders are calling for ‘consequences’ for this result and Germany and France specifically say that the UK cannot be allowed to cherry-pick the bits it wants and doesn’t. The attitude on the continent, therefore, is very much a case of cheery-bye but don’t expect any favours from us later. Meanwhile the FTSE has taken a substantial dip and Sterling has hit its lowest level since 1985… It is, quite frankly, not looking good.
And why should it? The EU provides the UK with so much; access to the world’s largest common market, protection of workers’ rights, protection of civil liberties, the free movement of people, goods, and labour. As it stands, an EU citizen can establish a company in any EU country and begin trading in any EU country, employing people from any EU country… etc.
At the moment, there are millions of EU citizens resident in Britain who work here and make great contributions to our country through things like our NHS, scientific R&D, industry, schools, universities and so on. There are also 2.2 million British nationals living elsewhere in the EU, what is going to happen to them?
No, the EU is not perfect, but if you honestly think that the United Kingdom will fare better on its own, you are deluding yourself. What we have done now is to open the doors to allow the far right of the Tory party to do whatever they like with the country without Europe to tell them when they’ve gone too far. All those nice laws protecting workers’ rights and civil liberties, ensuring equal work for equal pay, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, etc… came from Europe.
If you also think that leaving the EU will allow the left to overturn capitalism and create a glorious socialist utopia, you’re also kidding yourself. Just remember what country you’re living in – the U.K. has led the way for capitalism from the very beginning and, if anything, Europe held us back on that one.
We are now in a position where the far right is set to take over governance of our splintered country. The whole idea of voting out to bring public services back into direct public ownership is set up to backfire wonderfully as Boris and his pals look to set about the total dismantling of the NHS.
So what for the UK now? Well, it looks pretty much set to fall apart itself. England and Wales will be pretty happy with the result, so short of Tunbridge Wells declaring independence, I don’t think there’s too much to worry about there. But Northern Ireland has been interesting to say the least, due to it’s net benefit from EU funding. Europe was instrumental in securing peace in the North and, as such, NI has some very strong feelings towards the EU, as noted by it’s strong majority Remain vote. However, it looks set to be dragged kicking and screaming away with the rest of the UK.
Northern Ireland also provides an interesting situation as it is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with the EU – through the Republic of Ireland. At the moment that border is open, but there has already been speculation as to what might happen on that border now. There have even been calls from within Northern Ireland’s legislative assembly leaders to seek reunification with the ROI. Whilst this has to be taken with a rather large pinch (tablespoon) of salt, it’s likely these calls will reverberate as people begin to come to terms with what the future may hold.
And then, of course, Scotland. In 2014 we were told that the only way to guarantee our EU membership (which the majority of Scots favour) was to vote No to independence. A year later and we are plunged into uncertainty over that too as an In-Out referendum is announced. So, in Scotland the vote reflected the Scottish favour of EU membership with a 62% majority in favour of remaining within the EU.
As Scotland voted No to independence, and in favour of the EU, whose membership we were told was guaranteed by staying with the UK, we’d rightly expect to see the UK remain in the EU, yes? Nope. Sorry Scotland, Big brother England has made the decision and you’re coming with us. Nevermind the subsidies for farming, fishing science, education, renewable energy, conservation, cultural preservation, etc… nope, we can’t have Johnny Foreigner coming here anymore so we’re dragging you out.
Understandably, the Scottish electorate is a bit pissed off (could you tell) that we have, in effect, been cheated and deceived. As such, the Scottish electorate, including many previous No voters are calling for Scottish independence, indeed, the First Minister is expected to make a statement later today on the result.
It has always been clear that Scotland and the rest of the UK have had differing political views, but this can be seen no clearer than today with Scotland showing a clean sweep for Remain, with every counting area having a clear Remain majority. Today, Scotland has shown itself to be a nation open to working with the rest of the world to create a better place for all of us to live and work, rather than a closed off island, hiding from progress.
It is no secret that I am a supporter of Scottish Independence and I will campaign tirelessly for it should we come to another referendum, but to see it come about in this way is not something I ever wanted. I did not want to see Britain, ravaged by xenophobic populism, be torn apart, with England and Wales thrust into obscurity and a Northern Ireland with divides opening up anew. I did not want to see Scotland thrust into political turmoil again as it fights to keep its people from being dragged out of a union they wanted to be a part of for the sake of staying in one they were never asked about.
At the moment, things look very uncertain and quite bleak, but life goes on and we must remain optimistic.