As I hiked through the Southwest of England over the past 10 days, I met many “delightfully British” residents who had their own opinions on what defines England as a country and how it stands in the European Union. From the deanery of Canterbury to the nearby pub—including Cambridge alumni and regular barflies—most everyone stated they wished to remain a part of a stable, international group of countries that trade, protect, and align. These citizens had a communal outlook stating that, whether or not Great Britain is in the European Union, they will still be a part of Europe. Even nationally, it looked as if “In” would be the selection on Thursday, June 23, 2016. With consideration for economic, scientific, and global discrepancies, many celebrities—such as Stephen Hawking and J.K. Rowling—stand against leaving the European Union. Continued residency in this continental neighborhood seemed to be the popular notion, which is why I was surprised to see, on the front page, that Great Britain will no longer be asking their European neighbors for milk and sugar. The United Kingdom has left the European Union.
The idea for a referendum emerged when David Cameron ran for his soon-to-be last term as the Prime Minister of Great Britain. As a conservative party leader and right-wing activist, he faced a Parliament that was gradually dividing—the tides had turned in British rule, and Cameron was on his way out. A couple months later, all of the United Kingdom listened as their former Prime Minister spoke his final words under oath. The vote had resulted in a 52-48 victory for the “Brexit” party—“Brexit” a spinoff of Greece’s pre-depression breakaway party “Grexit”—will supposedly be led by Conservative-party-rival Boris Johnson. He is likely to pound the gavel as Great Britain terminates its long-established alliance. The “Outers” have officially taken control in a split Parliament and have divided the nation.
So what is the United Kingdom now? It is the medley of four disagreeing countries—Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland—coming together to individualize all things associated with the Union Jack. These neighboring islands plan on establishing a single market economy where they are not bound by the EU regulations on areas such as agriculture, justice and home affairs. It is their wish to mimic the Canadian-style trade arrangement where they can rid themselves of past tariffs. Though they no longer have to pay these tariffs, their economy is expected “to take a tremendous hit”—especially because of the required two-year negotiation period where they will still be indirectly imposed under EU trade regulations. As a matter of fact, Britain’s big banks have taken a $130 billion battering and the pound has dropped 6 percent since the decision was decided . Needless to say, the UK’s new identity is seismic to the rest of the world. Its initiative to change—whether successful or not—will directly affect the stability of countries near and far. The success of this economy could likely boost anti-EU movements in Europe, opening the possibility for a downfall in the European Union. This downfall of sinking economies could create a vulnerability to Russian aggression, threats by ISIS, and other incidents in international security. Britain’s economic stance affects more than just its natives.
Besides the economy, there were other motivations for voters to ultimately choose “Out.” National healthcare proved to be a sensitive topic to at least 52 percent of the voters this Thursday—these residents did not desire their immigrating counterparts’ company anymore. Many British-born citizens are upset with the influx of immigrants entering the country with the supposed intent of acquiring free healthcare. They feel it is not fair to the natives that they have to share this governmental aid. Without association to the EU, they are not required to admit anyone from neighboring European countries—thus potentially lowering threats on terrorism. Even though there is an exchange of criminal records and passenger records between countries in the EU, a slim majority of British residents believe that it is safer to close their borders, even if a wall must be built. The next couple of years will include the deportation of approximately three million non-British residents, whether or not they have criminal records.
Now that Britain has disbanded itself from others in Europe, we must ask ourselves what does this mean for our home country? If you live in Europe, do not expect a strong relationship with your friend in the West. If you live in Asia, do not expect help from the United Kingdom when Russia becomes a threat. And if you live in America, well, start thinking who you’re going to vote for this November.
We currently live in an era of dogged racial loathing and undefined self-assurance. And the only way to put aside this issue—so that it does not affect our political decisions—is by “thinking generationally.” How does our decision help shape the world we wish to see? Whether that answer is on the ballot this time, or the next, we must decide which choice will make that answer appear. In America, we have a similar situation as Britain: a disassembled Republican party, two polar opposite candidates, and the improbable security of one’s nation. There is Trump. And there is Clinton. There could be a wall, or there could be a path. There is security, and then there is stability—with one comes another, but what matters is that we do not isolate ourselves to the point that we receive neither. “Isolation is the sum total of wretchedness to a man,” Thomas Carlyle once stated. If we isolate ourselves, we will lose allies, to say the least, and we will have no aid. We live in a world of economic and social exchange where you have to give in order to get. Without helping other nations, we cannot receive help for ourselves. So what I ask of you, and of America as a unified nation, is to have this in mind on November 8, when you choose the fate of not only yourselves, but the hopeful sum that is left unborn.
Security or stability, which do you choose?