‘Tis but the same rehearsal of the past.
First freedom and then Glory – when that fails,
Wealth, vice, corruption – barbarism at last.
And History, with all her volumes vast,
Hath but one page…
It’s official: the Brexit is happening. At least that’s what 51.9% of the voting UK public decided in a record-setting turnout of over 70% despite a rainy June day.
It goes without saying the world is in shock. Especially London elites and Bruxelles’s bureaucrats. They had all the assurances of the experts, all the way up to the day of the election. All the way up to the very morning of the vote, some predicted a 8.5% win for Remain, some a 4% win for Remain, and very few showing a Leave win. But popular opinion and the experts blew this one, as they so often do. Once the Brits finish sticking out their tongues and wagging their fingers in mockery, it will be up to Britain’s best negotiators (Boris Johnson?) to speak with Bruxelles and decide the fate of thousands of Brits currently living on the mainland and the Europeans living on UK soil. Not to mention the billions of pounds of investments and capitals in what will now be two distinct economic zones.
Prime Minister David Cameron is already tidying up and making way for new leadership within a few months to lead these all important negotiations. Germany’s Merkel and the EU’s Tusk are putting forth the most resilient, hopeful faces they can in an attempt to stop the bleeding: The Guardian reports that over $2 trillion were wiped out of world markets in the day following the Brexit, personal fortunes were lost (and don’t think Britain’s top oligarchs will take the beating lying down), and now continental rabble-rousers Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders are stoking the flames to bring similar referendums to their home countries. The chaos risks to bring an end to the European project against an already feeble structure of international and national governments wracked by war and economic malaise over the last century.
So will the sky fall on us and the Old Continent go through a new Middle Ages? You would think so by reading the papers. But neighbors that never joined the EU, such as Switzerland and Norway, seem to have gotten on just fine. Have we ever seen a nation leave the EU? Never on this scale, no, but there is a precedent of sorts: when Bruxelles told the people of Greenland they didn’t have the right to fish in their own waters , they got tired of it and voted to drop the EU in 1982. The island nation of 56,000 had to go through years of painful negotiations but finally secured free access to European markets in exchange for allowing passage of European vessels in their territory. If the Europeans are not too vindictive and are not seeking to punish the Brits for their symbolic humiliation, I’d wager that both sides will eventually be able to strike a deal to grease some wheels and get their economies back on track after enduring these initial shock waves.
A matter that may be more
pressing is how Scotland and Northern Ireland will react to the UK leaving the EU when their citizens voted to stay. This could mean a reunified Ireland after 95 years of British imposed partition. As for the Scots, a second independence referendum could yield a different outcome than the one in 2014.
And what is to come? What kind of world will the Millenials have? The left’s inexorable march of history does not seem so inevitable now with the rise of the Marine Le Pens, Nigel Farages, and Donald Trumps of the world. In response to a new age of globalization with the rapid movement of goods, people, and ideas, are we now seeing a new, 21st century nationalism? Will walls be raised where bridges once stood? Will armies cross borders where trade once flowed?