I saw an elderly British lady give commentary that she voted to leave because she "wanted Britain to be like it once was". The British have always had a strong sense of national identity, "quintessentially British". However the only constant in life is change, change is inevitable. The EU was an idea to bring countries together and help forge common interests and identities. A move away from nationalism and a move toward cohesiveness and commonality. At a grand scale.
The exit of Britain from the EU project could represent the beginning of the end of the EU in it's still fragile stage. Its early days (40 years isn't a long time in the wider scheme of the magnitude of change that was happening) and yes there are problems. Greece coming up to speed to being a functioning economy that can collect it's taxes and grow, Italy with its black markets and poor fiscal and taxation policies, Spain and Portugal with their struggling economies, France with their working practices etc. Good short term reasons for stronger economies in the EU to be scared and back out. But what about the longer term view, would short term pain be worth long term gains?
Then there is the movement of it's people and immigration. Fear of "foreigners" coming in and taking "our jobs" was a big factor in the vote. Fear is never a good reason to do anything, other than running away from a hungry Lion or the likes. It makes people make snap decisions. Britain like Ireland has an ageing population. The OBR said that by 2065, 26% of the population of England and Wales would be more than 65 years old, up from 18% today, increasing the cost of pensions, health and social care. Britain needs workers which they will not produce themselves alone.
The vote to stay or leave was relatively close. London and the younger population largely vote to stay. The rural people of Britain and the elderly age voted to leave. Resistance to change is a natural thing, the older have always said through the generations for millennia that "things were better in their day". Perhaps it is this sentiment that came out in force in the vote, along with the "our Jobs" cohort to pull Britain out of the "new" project of the EU. That and a lack of long term thinking around aiding the less productive economies out of their MO to become better, making a stronger EU with the idea of "Together we are Stronger".
Is this vote a move away from unification and a vote toward greater nationalism and sovereign identity? Will non-nationals in Britain now be feel less welcome to stay and to move off shore? Will places people can move to diminish if the EU begins to break up now, as other stronger economies lose patience with the EU project i.e. Denmark, Belgium and pull their purses out of the flow of money around the EU also? Will the movement of people be impeded causing more nationalism? Then what happens if Donald Trump comes on stream.
We have seen this trend toward stronger sovereign states and nationalism before. It's all happened before in 1900-1920.
Technically speaking, the referendum is not legally binding. In theory the political elite could ignore the will of a slight majority of voters, and not make any moves to exit the political and economic bloc. British leadership could avoid invoking Article 50 all together, and would instead attempt to negotiate a different — not entirely separate — relationship with the EU. Whatever the outcome, it's an important day in history.
About the Author
This article was written by Brian Mc Fadden, he recruits in IT and has 20 years experience in the industry. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org