Will Brexit cross Atlantic?
The world was left stunned by last month’s vote in the United Kingdom that will see Britain be the first country to leave the European Union in the bloc’s 22-year history.
An outgrowth of the former European Economic Community, World War II and the Cold War, the EU had been seen as one of the most successful experiments with member state unions in the world’s history.
Its policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. Most borders between member states have removed passport constraints and the euro was developed and utilized by 19 states to boost regional economies.
When the world’s economy was running full bore in the late ’90s and early 2000s, things were wonderful for life in the EU and any thought of leaving such a profitable partnership was foolhardy.
Cue the 2008 global recession, exacerbated by the collapse of member state Greece’s economy, however, and the mood was beginning to grow sour. Add to that today’s migrant crisis out of the Syrian civil war and the growing threat of terrorism following attacks in Paris and Brussels, and the desire to leave was enticing for many Brits.
Interestingly enough, if one were to substitute “America” for “Britain” in much of that history, we’d likely find a very similar version of our recent history. Few Americans had major gripes with Washington’s governing during the ’90s, when times were good. As the recession saw many lose retirement funds and others their jobs, however, more citizens began reassessing the global marketplace with greater criticism. Why should our corporations profit from a global economy when the plant in town shuts down and puts hundreds out of work? Why should immigration continue unfettered when there aren’t enough jobs for the people here?
Meanwhile, the concern here about terrorism and national security has grown precipitously in recent years with the growth of homegrown terrorism in incidents like the Boston Marathon bombing and shootings in San Bernadino and Orlando. Restricting the movement of people and increasing security measures are how many citizens want their governments to react to such incidents.
The 2010s may be best remembered for the rise of populist movements from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter to the Trump campaign. The last one that may end up having the greatest impact on the future of our country if it continues to grow.
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, actually happened to be visiting Britain on the day of the Brexit vote. His campaign has largely been one that plays to nationalist sympathies, trumpeting plans to impose heavy tariffs to encourage domestic production, build a wall along Mexico to reduce illegal immigration and take the fight to enemies overseas to try to stamp out time for operational planning of domestic attacks.
He was thrilled by the outcome of the Brexit vote, which should come as no surprise.
“Basically, they took back their country,” Trump said from Scotland, where he was promoting his golf courses. “That’s a good thing.”
When asked where public anger was greatest, Trump said: “U.K. U.S. There’s plenty of other places. This will not be the last.” He may be right. America will have its own “exit” referendum of sorts in November. Will voters choose to hold the steady status quo or vie for greater independence from the global economy and security state under a Trump White House?
It will be an interesting answer, regardless of America’s choice.