The Brexit Referendum
On June 23rd, citizens of the UK, spearheaded by Nigel Farage, leader of the Independence Party, pushed for a vote on the Brexit Referendum; legislation to secede from the European Union. The referendum requires a majority vote to pass and holds major economic, social and political implications not only for Britain, but for the other members of the European Union, dubbed the EU, as well as NATO and the United Nations. The archaic EU was created to foster a relationship between its 28 members after World War II, but has created a strain on those members who provide more than they benefit. After Prime Minister David Cameron won the 2015 general election, he promised the people they would get a say in their involvement of the membership of the EU, the first time since 1975. What impact will this referendum have globally?
The Brexit Referendum revolves around three key points: the smothering of small businesses, border control and the movement to create a “United States of Europe”.
Charging millions of Pounds a year in membership fees to the UK, the EU is far from being economically conservative in their agenda promoting corporate taxation, scaled income taxation and legislature limiting the market through micromanagement. Big businesses stand to profit within the EU by creating an environment that allows them to move money and products with ease worldwide. Large American companies like Ford, Cisco and J.P. Morgan say membership in the EU grants the ability to sell product within 28 countries without a tariff. Members voting for the withdraw say it smothers the emerging small business market and focuses on creating an environment to which other countries within the EU benefit. However, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Cameron make an ardent point that Britain would lose its economic stability by disaffiliating themselves. Just the mention of a referendum gives the global market anxiety, dropping the value of the Pound to a seven year low and fluctuating the value of the U.S. Dollar. Britain, being the "gateway" to Europe for American commerce, holds the key to foreign economic relations between the two market goliaths. In this global market, waves travel fast and hard.
When the EU was created, only 4.2 percent of Britain’s total population were immigrants. That number has nearly tripled in the last 60 years. Those in favor of the referendum believe these immigrants are flooding the market with cheap labor and impose a national security risk. Those against believe these immigrants support the national economy and strengthen the global market. Despite the EU plan to drop immigration to below 100,000 migrants annually, migration to the UK is over 300,000 immigrants a year, causing unemployment concerns in the points-based system that is used exclusively in the UK. The rise in terrorism in places such as Brussels and Paris have created a sense of fear and urgency in the British people who are calling for tighter border security and the deportation of violent criminals. Supremacy of EU courts creates an abrasive atmosphere for such actions. By seceding from the EU, Britain would have more control over its own defense, its membership in the United Nations and it could craft its own military force, rather than contribute to the European Union's. Conversely, leaving the Union would diminish Britain’s influence worldwide and make them sideline players on large scale policies.
Young people in Britain are less likely to vote, which may lead to a skewed generational model on the Brexit referendum. The young voters attribute their low turnout to a system which caters to an older, more seasoned demographic. In turn, campaigns create messages to influence the target demographic, forfeiting the younger vote. This is yet another reason some want to separate from the EU; to grant them more dexterity throughout the voting process and the ability to create a well-rounded system. Partisan groups such as Bite the Ballet try to engage younger voters to educate, participate and eventually influence these policies and create a younger voting pool. Strong ties with other European countries included in this EU conglomerate create a more empowered voter, linking issues across country borders.
People of the UK feel as though they deserve the ability to choose the affiliation of their county and the right to vote on that matter. The newly appointed Prime Minster is affording them the freedom to do so. Whatever the outcome, the American people, especially the emerging generation, will feel the reverberations of the vote on this referendum. There may be lessons here for our generation to apply to our own country's policies.