The United Kingdom has an historic vote coming up in June, one that will determine whether the country stays or leaves the European Union. Popularly known as the “Brexit” (Britain + exit), several politicians in the old country are throwing their weight behind leaving the block of 28 nations. London’s quirky and popular Mayor Boris Johnson is one of those people, claiming that it’s time for the United Kingdom to assert its independence.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson is Pro-Brexit
Euroscepticism is enjoying a renaissance in the face of a refugee crisis, a crummy economy, and Russian aggression. The elephant in the room for many countries is that the Euro currency is a huge part of the never ending economic crisis.
Fortunately, the United Kingdom has a stupendous deal, whereby they get free market access to the European Union through their membership, without being shackled to the economically inflexible Euro. Only Denmark and Sweden enjoy similar arrangements. Nevertheless, this isn’t enough to satisfy many British people — they simply want out of a political union that they consider bloated and inept.
“The Brexit threatens to undermine the project for European cooperation at the absolutely worst possible moment,” said Dalibor Rohac, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and author of the book Towards an Imperfect Union: A Conservative Case for the EU. “There’s a complete fantasy that British Eurosceptics are living in, that if they leave the European Union they’ll gain autonomy. Norway and Switzerland are not in the European Union, and they have to comply with most European legislation. Most of Britain will still have to comply with European rules. London is the world’s financial capital, and the Brexit threatens that status.”
The idea that the United Kingdom can chart its own economic destiny is powering the Brexit movement. “The reason that Brexit could be good is that Britain can develop free trade deals with countries across the world,” said Simon Constable, a British born financial commentator and the author of The Wall Street Journal Guide to the 50 Economic Indicators that Really Matter. “When Britain was at its relative richest, in the nineteenth century, there were no tariffs on anything coming or going from Britain. Under Brexit, Britain could reintroduce such wealth creating policies.”
Constable maintains he’s against the Brexit because it threatens national unity. “I am anti-Brexit, for one reason: I don’t want the United Kingdom to break up, which it probably would if Britain left,” said Constable. “The Scottish would rightly demand a referendum to leave the Untied Kingdom.” The Scottish narrowly rejected independence in a referendum in 2014.
Rohan, who is originally from Slovakia, is adamant the United Kingdom is a moderating force in the European Union and that their departure would deal a huge blow to “free-market thought in European affairs.”
“The United Kingdom has been an extraordinary good influence. Even today, they’re the leaders in free-market thought in European affairs. If they leave, it will be harder to have good policies in Brussels,” he said.
The International Monetary Fund recently warned that the Brexit would cause severe economic damage. Right now, the poll numbers reveal a dead-even split between yes and no, while millions remain undecided.
World leaders are growing very concerned at the prospect of a Brexit. President Barack Obama is headed to London this week, and promoting European unity is at the top of his agenda. The damage, some say isn’t purely economic, as separatists across the continent could be emboldened by the latest move. Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom itself all have had issues with separatist movements for decades.
“A Brexit would encourage nationalists across the continent that all want to leave the European Union,” said Rohan. Many are hoping that cooler heads will prevail, and that the British will vote against a Brexit in June.
David is the Editor of Bold. He's especially passionate about millennial economic empowerment. A former local news reporter, David is originally from the Little Havana area in Miami, and later became a pioneer resident of the Disney-inspired town of Celebration, Florida. David holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.