June 23, saw Britain vote on whether or not to stay in the European Union. In a relatively close vote, those who want to leave the European Union won. The vote set in motion a political crisis that will last for some time. The outcome is in doubt with plenty of uncertainty.
The vote if you look at the numbers within the numbers, is quite revealing. For the less educated voters who are white, their votes for the most part were to depart from the Union. Those votes came from all over England but particularly in the Northern part of England where the loss of manufacturing jobs was most severe and the recovery has not worked for them.
The winners gleefully declared that it was their Independence day. Their campaign theme was Britain first. Well, to be perfectly frank, Britain has never been totally part of the Union. They, unlike the other countries of the European Union have maintained their own currency during these times. They have been more like an a la carte member of the Union.
The winning side used sovereignty and independence to their advantage, with the use of the fear of immigrants as part of their effort to win. In a way the election provided an avenue by which the British voter could put their collective fingers into the eyes of the Establishment by voting for independence and damn the consequences.
The great danger with this surprise outcome is that the idea of nationalism and the wish to go it alone may spread to other countries. France could be the next country to decide to separate from the European Union. Pan, the French fascist, will undoubtedly attempt to leave the Union and if they do than the end of great experiment will be in sight.
Interestingly enough, Scotland was resolute in their vote and they voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union. As a result of the election, the Scots may redouble their efforts to gain their own independence.
The resulting after effect of the election was to send financial markets into a tail spin. The value of the pound went down against the dollar. Stock Markets around the world were negative today. Monday will probably see further losses as the markets attempt to digest what this means for our future.
Markets are a reflection of our world, and they do not like uncertainty. For America the result is that people around the world will flee to safer environs which probably means a flight to our treasury’s with a lowering of the yield for those financial instruments. The immediate effect will be negligible for our country but for the long term we just do not know what this all will mean.
In the meantime the Prime Minister, David Cameron submitted his resignation which will take effect in October. The process will take two years to negotiate the terms of England leaving the Union. In two years time we may see a new referendum with a different result.
Our founders warned us about the dangers of government by referendum and we can see the danger of that in this totally surprising result from their election.
One question that needs to be asked and answered is whether this result was a logical consequence of a people’s natural feeling of disgust with the system where globalization has dislocated many people from their jobs. Can one legitimately turn back the clock regarding globalization, and expect a different outcome?
Another key question is whether bringing reforms to the European Union will satisfy the unruly and disquieted masses? This remains to be seen to whether reforms can be done or whether they are the solution.
Nationalism and sovereignty are the real problem. Each country has its own history and its own pride. It is easier to think of oneself as being Dutch or British than a European. Nationalism gives one a sense of identity.
Germany’s dominance in the Union has created resentment from other countries.
If the European Union falls apart, each country would need to develop its own currency. So we could see the return to the Mark, and the Lire.
Again, this is a political crisis where we just do not know what the outcome will be. England’s decision to leave the Union could be just the first step towards the dissolution of the European Union. The European Union has been a grand experiment with many successes. The people will decide whether to continue with this Union where sovereignty is forsaken for the good of the whole of Europe. It is their choice. Will wiser heads prevail or will emotion triumph?