It’s now been a few days since the “Brexit” vote, and it’s interesting to see how things have played out so far:
- It seems that a lot of people woke up in Britain with “buyer’s remorse.” Social media was abuzz with people who said that they wanted to “send a message” to Brussels, but didn’t actually want to leave the European Union.
- The most searched terms on Google from the UK were “what is the EU?” and “What does it mean to leave the EU?”
- By this morning an on-line petition to “redo” the vote had gathered 3 million signatories, or significantly more than the margin of victory of the “Leave” campaign.
- Some of the promises made by Nigel Farager of the United Kingdom Independence Party and other proponents of the “Leave” campaign don’t seem to be holding up, only days after the vote. Apparently the promise that £350 million a week that is currently sent to the European Union would be used on the National Health Service – a promise which was painted on a traveling campaign bus, no less – turns out to be evaporating before the eyes of the seriously duped British public.
- It’s not only Prime Minister David Cameron whose political career is in tatters, but Jeremy Corbin, the leader of the Labor Party, is facing his own insurrection.
- Donald Trump just happened to be in Scotland, by accident, promoting two of his golf courses, and proved once again how completely clueless he really is. He tweeted about how the people of Scotland were “taking back their country” – they may eventually do that, if they have a 2nd referendum on leaving the United Kingdom – but the people of Scotland actually voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union.
- Not to be outdone in demonstrating their stupidity, Fox News had a headline that the “UK votes to leave the UN,” because, what’s the difference really between the European Union and the United Nations? They’re both elitist international organizations that Fox News despises.
- And the British Pound hit its lowest exchange rate with the dollar in 31 years.
And that’s just a few of the delicious tidbits that we were fed over the weekend. While we can all have some fun at the expense of our friends in Britain now, there is, however, a serious side to all of this.
I’m not a catastrophist, the way that some people are, who think that this will lead to another financial collapse. I doubt that, in part because the British never abandoned their beloved pound, and unlike most of the nations of the European Union, never adopted the Euro as their currency.
No, I think the real damage here is psychological.
It’s important to remember that the European Union is the successor to the European Economic Community, which is itself the successor to the European Coal and Steel Community, which was established in 1951, and was the first significant step forward in creating a post- World War II order in Europe in which major powers – in this case France, Italy and West Germany, as well as Belgium the Netherlands and Luxembourg – would agree to cooperate economically. And to begin to create the conditions that would avoid their ever being a World War III.
Because if there is any silver lining to World War II, it’s that it really was (at least in Europe) the war to end all wars. In this day and age one cannot imagine that Germany would take up arms against France, or France against Italy, or Italy against England. It’s inconceivable at this stage of European development. It’s just not going to happen.
Europe is a long way from becoming the United States, and with its different languages and dynamic cultural traditions, it never will. But it was starting to stand out as a beacon of cooperation between countries, and as soon as the Iron Curtain fell, the countries of Eastern Europe rushed to join in.
That has a significance that many Americans may never be able to appreciate.
And it is this that the United Kingdom just said no to. And that is what is so sad about the “Brexit” vote for those of us who really endorse the European concept.
 I would have expected something like this from Americans, but I certainly didn’t expect it from Brits!