On Thursday, Britain voted to leave the European Union, a decision which will indisputably have important global consequences and will reshape the nation’s place in the world. It’s the first time a country leaves the bloc, especially one that’s been a member for over four decades.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the news about ‘Brexit’ that’s been circulating, it’s entirely understandable. So here are the basics you need to know.
What happened? – 52% of UK’s population voted to leave the European Union, while 48% voted to remain. The shock plunged global financial markets into chaos, and prompted Britain’s prime minister David Cameron to renounce his position.
Why did this happen? – For the ‘Leave’ voters, a major concern were the immigration policies, which they consider to be too lenient. Also, there was a strong desire to escape from under Brussels’s thumb.
The aftershock – Global markets plunged shortly after the news of the results of the referendum was made public. The British pound plummeted to its lowest level since 1985, as investors fled to the American dollar and the yen, reports The New York Times.
What happens next? – UK’s exit will be a long process and little will change in the next two years. However, it becomes irreversible once the British government invokes a provision of the E.U.’s governing treaty known as Article 50.
Tourism will not be heavily affected, as the UK was not a member of the passport-free Schengen zone anyway. Likewise, Britain’s security is not going to be suffer, for it remains a nuclear power, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a leader of NATO.
Britain will be leaving the world’s largest common market. That frees them from the bloc’s commitment to the free movement of labor, capital, goods and services, but also bring about complications in the long run.
Scotland and Northern Ireland could push for separation. Both voted overwhelmingly to remain in the E.U., and the results of the referendum were obviously not to their liking. As a consequence, political leaders in Scotland and Northern Ireland called on Friday for new moves towards the separation from Britain, according to the New York Times.
The world’s reactions – As news about the Brits’ decision to leave the E.U. spread, the world reacted in shock, confusion and some even in approval and support.
“The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy. So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond”, declared U.S. President Barack Obama in a statement.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany expressed disappointment with the vote and deemed it a turning point for Europe’s future.
On the other hand, American presidential candidate Donald Trump applauded the Brits’ decision to leave the European Union. “I said this was going to happen, and I think that it’s a great thing. The British people have declared their independence from the European Union, and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy,” Mr. Trump said.