Jun 24 2016

Brexit: Will the European Union Fall?


Last night, the British people voted in for a Brexit – a British exit from the European Union. In the immediate fallout from the vote, pound fell to it’s lowest since 1985 and David Cameron – elected only last year – resigned as Prime of Britain. His successor will be taking office in October. Boris Johnson, leader of the Leave campaign, has said that Britons want “to pass their own laws, set their own taxes, and control their own borders.” But Britain won’t be making a hasty exit, as the timer starts on two years of talks before the separation is completed. Britain will be the first country to leave the EU, but is unlikely to be the last – France, Italy, and the Netherlands have also shown signs of teetering on the edge. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called it a “domino effect”, warning that the EU will crumble within the next five years.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s popular anti-EU party, Front National, has pledged to hold a vote on leaving the EU if elected in 2017. The most recent polls put Le Pen close to victory. In a recent interview, she likened the EU to death and urged Greece to also make a break.

Inspired by Brexit, Dutch Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders also called for a referendum if he wins the elections in March. He, too, is leading in polls, and a recent report put support for a referendum at 54%. This past April, the Dutch people rejected a EU-Ukraine trade deal by over 60%; they rejected the European Constitution by similar numbers in 2005. Like Johnson, Wilders states, “We want to be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy.” Italy’s Five Star movement has also been calling for a vote on whether or not to keep the euro and, since Brexit, its involvement in the EU entirely. In Germany and Austria, anti-EU sentiment is also growing.

“Remain” campaign arguments were based mostly on possible economic consequences, many of which would be imposed directly by the EU itself. Next to Germany, Britain is the second largest economy in the EU, the loss of which experts are calling “a major disaster.” Activists have already begun to protest the vote, citing Brexit as a racist, anti-immigrant movement. Other activists are calling for London to demand independence from Britain, as the vast majority of Londoners voted to stay. Scotland is also looking for another vote on independence, as 62% of Scots voted “remain.”

Britain joined the loosely organized European Economic Community in 1973, when it was aimed mostly at trade and economic integration between members. The EEC evolved into the European Union in 1993, and was officially replaced in 2009.

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