In a momentous and historic moment the UK has voted to leave the European Union, leaving Great Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron with no choice but to resign.
Shockwaves are already being felt as this seismic event ripples across the globe. The value of the pound has hit a 30 year low and the markets are in free fall, however following an intervention from the Governor of the Bank of England, the fall has levelled out.
The UK public voted in their droves and the result took experts by surprise. The final result was 17.4 million people to leave against the 16.1 million to remain, a 51.9% to 48.1% result.
The future for the UK’s relationship with the European Union now remains unclear, but what is clear is the ‘in out’ campaign saw a vicious battle between both sides despite the cross party Leave and Remain camps seeing sworn enemies campaigning together.
So What Is the European Union?
Originally formed in post war Europe as a way towards peace and stability, the EU grew quickly becoming more of a trade agreement between European countries, or the Common Market as it was known.
The UK entered in 1975 following a referendum with saw a massive majority. However as time has rolled on the EU has become much more than just a trading agreement between neighbouring states.
As more countries signed up the EU became a Government over governments with unelected faceless bureaucrats deciding laws affecting millions of people. These were rubber stamped by token elected officials known as MEPs [Members of the European Parliament].
Many of the UK’s laws were decided in Brussels and the European Court of Justice held sway over the laws of Great Britain.
Trade agreements were decided and governed by the EU making it impossible for businesses or indeed the UK government to agree trade deals with the rest of the world including the Commonwealth.
After 4 decades of this the people of the UK decided enough was enough and voted out.
The Nitty Gritty
The first real political rumblings of the discourse felt towards the EU came with the emergence of a new political party called UKIP – the UK Independence Party – led by outspoken leader Nigel Farage.
They swept to victory in EU elections with the mandate they’d work from the inside of the Union to get Britain out.
The UKIP style and mandate attracted a far right and nationalist following and the party’s attitude towards immigration in particular was marked as nothing more than xenophobic, racist and divisive.
During the recent General Election and despite the experts forecasting a massive UKIP uprising only one MP was elected.
However the rise of UKIP led to the so called Euro Sceptics and right wing in the Conservative Party to demand action be taken on EU membership.
Under pressure from his members and a ground sway of anti EU sentiment from the people, David Cameron [who wanted to Remain in the EU] took the brave decision [or crazy gamble] to hold a referendum.
The question put to the population of the United Kingdom was simple:
- Stay In the EU
- Leave the EU
And the result is now know – more than half of the UK voted to leave.
There is machinery in place for a ‘Brexit’ known as Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. The next Prime Minister of the UK will need to trigger this.
It’s a long winded procedure that could take up to 2 years to implement. In the meantime and once a new Prime Minister is in place a negotiating team will go head to head with the EU mandarins to 1) make the split as painless as possible and 2) negotiate new trade deals.
The EU has already stated it will be no easy ride for the UK possibly down to the fear that if Britain gets a juicy deal – other member states may decide to leave themselves.
The ink on the result had barely dried before Scotland – that voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU suggested they’d be looking for a referendum to split for the UK.
This was quickly followed by the nationalists of Northern Ireland demanding the same – meaning a break-up of the UK leaving only Wales.
It’s apparent that the aftershocks are still being felt and at the time of writing the Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn is facing a vote of ‘no confidence.’
Today Britain is split down the middle and any new leaders must make it their first job to re-unite the country.
Democracy has spoken, the establishment has been hit where it hurts and the political classes are confused and shell shocked.
Strange times indeed.
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