On Thursday, the United Kingdom became the first country to ever leave the European Union.
Britons voted on a national referendum that has been dubbed “Brexit” — or Britain’s exit from the European Union. By a narrow margin, the Leave campaign won. This will surely mean significant changes both within the United Kingdom, and to the EU itself.
Prime Minister David Cameron, in favor of the Remain movement, is now significantly weakened, and his own conservative party will presumably see a noteworthy shift that leads them further to the right. It could also lead to a rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) led by Nigel Farage, a major proponent of the Leave movement.
“Britain is witnessing the same phenomenon as in France, Germany, Holland, and other EU countries, with the growth of a new far-Right party, the UKIP. Those guys are very anti-EU, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and sort of Tea Party-ish in general. And they’ve been taking votes from the Conservatives,” Sam Mustafa, professor, historian, and author told Bold.
This may not be a step forward in the world of social acceptance for the United Kingdom, as Farage has made some controversial statements regarding employer discrimination toward foreigners. UKIP as a whole has even been known to be prejudiced against others.
“Cameron thought he could score points and take some of those people back by promising the Brexit vote, but he bungled it. What has happened instead is that he is in the awkward position of being officially in favor of staying in the EU, while allowing the UKIP to benefit from the Brexit ‘debate,'” Mustafa said.
Surprisingly, the assassination of Labour Party MP Jo Cox had not swayed any of the voters. The killer was a far-right lunatic who proclaimed “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain,” according to The Guardian. It was speculated that this act of extremism would convince some of the traditional conservative voters from wanting to proceed with Brexit.
The process of withdrawing from the European Union could take anywhere from two to four years. Regardless, it will have an enormous impact in ways that can only be pondered for now. It is worth noting that Britain has the second-largest economy in the EU and the third-largest population. As the night went on, the British pound plummeted while financial markets began feeling the consequences of the referendum, which could lead to serious economic implications.
“In the long term, British goods will become more expensive on the continent, which will hurt British business. And it will be harder for people to move from the UK to the EU and vice-versa (which is the whole goal of the ‘Leave’ movement). In the short term, that might help wages (fewer immigrants applying for jobs), but in the long term, it could cause inflation,” Mustafa told Bold.
The stunning results of Brexit simply leave far more questions than answers at the moment.
However, it plays to the familiar tune that politics of fear affects voters. There is no denying that the Syrian refugee crisis has had damaging economic impact to the European Union, but will the reverberations of the Brexit influence other European nations? And is the world witnessing the fall of much-needed allied Europe? What do the results say about the upcoming election in the United States?
Donald Trump and his followers, who seem to only care about the prosperity of their own country, are at least somewhat synonymous with the nationalism rise currently seen in the UK. After all, the GOP nominee was supported by Farage.
Charlie May recently graduated from the Ramapo College of New Jersey, receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. His main focus is politics, national security, foreign affairs, money in politics, and investigative pieces. He hopes to bring a fresh, unique perspective to Bold.