Brexit, An American Eyewitness Account
It has been a over a week since the Brexit results were announced and I have witnessed uncharted waters that the world has been plunged into. As an American living in London for the past 10 years I have come to see myself as a Londoner and have a unique perspective of the events. Now that we are in this new world I would like to provide my personal insights into the past several days. But first I’ll start with a summary of events.
The night before Brexit
Perhaps like many people in the United Kingdom, I stayed up late that night watching as the results slowly came in. The days before I watched as politicians verbally battled each other to sway the voters towards their arguments. In the news, other countries were reporting about their worries of the UK leaving the EU, but no one seemed to seriously think that it would happen. People on Facebook were discussing Brexit and no one believed that the people of the UK would vote to leave. It seemed an unthinkable result.
As the hours slowly passed and the results continued to come in, members of the Leave Campaign had resigned themselves to a loss. Nigel Farage made an announcement early in the night, conceding defeat. However, that was premature. By the time we reached around 4:30 a.m. it was evident that the Leave Campaign had won and we as a country Brexited the EU.
The days that followed Brexit
Shock spread throughout the United Kingdom as people came to the realization that the world had changed for them. Some of the voters did not think they would win, others voted Leave as a protest vote. Many of the people who voted Leave had their own personal reasons and came from a diverse background. The Remain voters were shocked even more when they woke to the news that they had been pulled out of the EU.
The first of the big casualties began with the Prime Minister David Cameron. He quickly made an announcement and resigned his position. The news reported that “he had fallen on his sword”. Those words would be embraced by the media and used over and over as politicians resigned on a daily basis in England. The opposition party shook to its core as the party members rebelled against their leader.
Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the Labor party probably knew that his members would try and push him out but he had no idea how far things would go. As of this writing he is still struggling to maintain power after many member resignations and a vote of no confidence. It appears that any day now he is going to be challenged for the leadership of the party.
The demographic divisions
First of all, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU while Wales and England voted to Leave. We clearly have a north and south division however, the overall vote of the United Kingdom as a whole was a majority Leave. This has resulted in a relationship strain between the north and the south.
The demographic divisions go a step further than geographical. As the results came in it became apparent that most of the rural country voted out while the major cities such as London voted to remain. Age groups were divided between older generations voting out while younger generations voted to remain. Then lastly, there seemed to be a division between people with degrees and those without. Those without degrees voted out while those with degrees voted to remain.
It is this latter demographic that has been targeted by educated people within the city of London. Facebook quickly trended articles and posts stating that the United Kingdom was pulled out of the EU by the uneducated working classes while the degree bearing people were forced to accept the results. But ultimately, it was the Remain Campaign who became complacent and assumed they would win, thus resulting in a lower voter turnout for them.
Backlashes happened in three different forms. First you had the educated and youth of London protesting the results in London. Secondly you had hate crime reports increase throughout England specifically targeting Polish people. Thirdly you had Scotland threatening the UK to veto the results or to run their own referendum for independence from the UK.
In the EU, many countries and politicians were also shocked at the results and soon found themselves scheming for a future without the UK. They announced that they would treat the UK harshly for leaving; this show of harshness was to deter other countries from trying to leave the EU as well. However, other countries are closing watching the UK and seemed to be waiting patiently for their turn to come.
There is so much more detail to talk about, but this is pretty much a summary of the events. As an American I personally think that Brexit is a good idea for the UK. I believe that the UK as a country has its own sovereignty and that unelected foreign leaders have no right to impose their own views and laws on the British people. The EU is not a United States of Europe and in my opinion it is too diverse to ever be one. Each country still retains its culture and language, its own history and its own people. It is true that people can travel freely throughout Europe but the cost is high.
Global economies have been thrown into turmoil; the UK is navigating uncharted waters without a captain at its helm. Things will stabilize eventually, but it will take time and probably a few years. In the end I think this was a good decision by the British people but it will be up to history to tell how things turned out.