Today is the day the United Kingdom was supposed to leave the European Union. “Brexit” (British Exit) has now been postponed (until either April 12 or May 22nd, depending on certain contingencies).
(For my American readers who may not know, the United Kingdom includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.)
Brexit itself is a very complicated subject, and far to complicated for a blog post like this one. Wikipedia has excellent materials on the history and substance of Brexit, and for the curious, I urge you to consult that website. I just want to make a few points here:
- The Brexit vote in June of 2016 foreshadowed the election of Donald Trump later that November, both being race-driven “populist” uprisings in which the pro-voters were rebelling against the “elites,” whoever “they” are.
- In both the Brexit and Trump votes, there was a deluge of fake news generated on the right of the political spectrum. The lies fed to the British public were primarily that an exit from the European Union would be easy and would allow the British to regain control of their “borders.” And they’d be able to stick it to the “elites” in Brussels.
- In voting for leaving the European Union, the voters (primarily) of England completely forgot about Ireland and Scotland.
- Scotland is the simpler case. The people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union. Previously, in 2014, the voters of Scotland had also narrowly defeated an independence referendum relative to the question of separating from the United Kingdom themselves. Now there is talk of having another referendum, and with the Brexit imbroglio, the outcome could be different.
- Ireland is a much harder case. The “troubles” resulting from the partition of Ireland lasted roughly from 1969 to 1996, when they were mostly ended by the Good Friday agreement. Part of that agreement included a “soft border” between Ireland and Northern Ireland, where people can move freely across the border, just as people in mainland Europe now can. Brexit threatens to put an end to that by reimposing a hard border (because of customs requirements) and thereby potentially reigniting the Troubles.
That’s all stuff that the pro-Brexit voters totally forgot about. They were much to eager to stick it to the elites and keeping more dark-skinned people from entering Britain.
In the United States we have Donald Trump, but the good news is that we can get rid of Donald Trump. First in 2020 (and God forbid he should win reelection) at the latest in 2024.
Trump’s election has done a lot of damage to this country, and it’s going to take a lot of time to clean that damage up. But there’s a time-limit on this clusterfuck.
Not so with the United Kingdom and Brexit. Once they leave they’re gone. There’s no real going back. Prognosticators have different ideas about how much this will damage the British economy — especially if there is a “hard” (as opposed to negotiated) exit — but it sure isn’t going to be good.
The bottom line is that the pro-Brexit politicians lied to the people of Britain, and they stoked the fires of racism. And now they’ve got what they got.
I’m not sure that the extension of time to finish negotiating Brexit is going to buy them much, since her parliament keeps voting down the agreement that Theresa May negotiated with the European Union. The pro-Brexiteers apparently thought that the EU would fold and give them the deal they wanted.
Ain’t going to happen.
Good luck Britain. Good luck United Kingdom. Your version of Donald Trump may live on a lot longer than our version. May this not turn out as badly as everything would indicate.