This Week in Politics: Drama Across the Pond
This week, everyone’s talking about Brexit, the UK’s exit from the EU. UK voters have made their voices heard, and they want to cut ties with the European Union by a 52 to 48 percent vote. British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he will step down due to the decision.
After a meeting in Berlin, foreign ministers of Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands issued a statement saying they “expect the UK government to provide clarity and give effect to this decision as soon as possible.” They took the decision seriously and are considering how this will change their relationship with the UK and how the EU needs to be reformed. “We take this very seriously and are determined to make the EU work better for all our citizens,” they said. “We have to focus our common efforts on those challenges which can only be addressed by common European answers, while leaving other tasks to national or regional levels.”
David Cameron is not in any hurry to move on, though, and has decided to stay until October. European Parliament President Martin Schulz has expressed anger with this decision, saying it’s “scandalous” and “taking the whole continent hostage.”
Cameron supported the Remain Campaign which has not let up yet, despite the vote. Over 2 million people have signed a petition on the UK Parliament’s website demanding a second referendum on whether to cut ties with the EU. The petition only needed 100,000 signatures to be considered by Parliament. It called for a new vote which would require another referendum if the remain or leave vote was less than 60 percent with a turnout lower than 75 percent (the turnout was an impressive 72 percent). Technically, the fight isn’t completely over. Britain’s sovereign Parliament could also call for a legislative vote on the matter.
As left-winger David Lammy said, “We can stop this madness and bring this nightmare to an end. Let us not destroy our economy on the basis of lies and the hubris of Boris Johnson.” Johnson has led the Leave Movement. Although 2 million sounds like a lot, the referendum passed with seventeen million votes.
The Leave Movement was sparked by a distrust for a government run by the upper class that has a hold on politicians. Leave supporters are also anti-immigration and swayed by Islamophobia due to waves of refugees from the Middle East and ISIS attacks.
With the change comes uncertainty and potential for real trouble. The Dow Jones dropped 611 points in one day. Credit agency Moody lowered the UK’s credit outlook to “negative” and said the result will lead to “a prolonged period of uncertainty for the UK, with negative implications for the country’s medium-term growth.” This could affect their situation for years to come as they renegotiate relations with the EU.
Obama responded neutrally, saying, “the people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision.” He noted that the special relationship would still endure the change. Vice President Biden, on the other hand, was more open in his response, saying the US “preferred a different outcome.”
The parallels between Trump’s nationalism and anti-immigration reform agenda with the UK’s Leave Movement are undeniable. Trump used the result to underline his own nationalist views. “Basically, they took back their country,” he told Scottish reporters. “That’s a great thing.” Trump himself believes that a more isolationist foreign policy and full-scale deportation of illegal immigrants would do the same thing for the United States.