A Scot tries to explain the Brexit vote to Americans
Gutted doesn't begin to describe how I'm feeling today. And it's not because Donald Trump is currently within 40 miles of my house on the west coast of Scotland. (Although his presence sure isn't helping matters.)
Yesterday, the U.K. made a monumental mistake by voting to leave the European Union (aka Brexit, one of the most stupid made-up words ever to have been invented to describe an incredibly serious political issue). Well, I say the U.K., but in actual fact, it was only England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU. But since we remain governed by Westminster, we basically don't have a voice unless it echoes that south of the border.
It's a bleak road ahead for the U.K. In the 59-year history of the European Union, no state has left until now. The pound is at a 30-year low, Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned (with Boris Johnson, Donald Trump's transatlantic twin, rubbing his hands together in glee), and the international markets are in meltdown, with central bankers from Europe, Japan and Switzerland on standby to offer a steadying hand.
Americans have a lot on their political plate right now. But Brexit affects you guys too.
When (inevitably) European economic growth stalls, the entire global economy will feel the repercussions. Wall Street traders are bracing themselves for financial volatility not seen since the 2007-08 crisis, with many London-based U.S. banks in the firing line. Why would a big international company want to base itself in the U.K. now?
Monetary implications aside, how will the decision to leave affect future generations in the U.K.? No longer will we be seen as a great place to invest in, to live in or perhaps even to visit, as we have been for so long because we were the English-speaking gateway to the 27 nations of the European Union. Students have spoken of feeling betrayed that they will bear the long-term burden of a decision made for them by older voters. Exit polls showed that three-quarters of voters aged 18 to 24 wanted to remain in the EU, while over 60 percent of seniors (aged 65-plus) voted to leave.
Of course, nobody — however much of an "expert" they are, and 52 percent of U.K. voters completely disregarded the advice of numerous "experts" in any case — really knows what the fallout of Brexit will be. We have to remain optimistic and hope that our government can negotiate a deal with EU leaders that will let us reap all the benefits without most of the costs.
For many Scots, our only light at the end of this long, gloomy tunnel is a second referendum on independence from the U.K., which is now almost a dead certainty and the only way to guarantee that, as a nation, we are never again forced into political situations against our collective will.
As a mother, what concerns me the most following the historic decision of June 23 isn't that the value of my house will drop, that the price of pretty much everything will go up, that we won't be able to afford our annual summer trip to France or that my kids won't get the medical care they need because European NHS workers will leave our country. It's that the main political force behind the Brexit movement was the anti-immigration propaganda peddled by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, former mayor of London and wannabe prime minister Boris Johnson and, of course, the aforementioned Mr. Trump.
Farage and Johnson instilled fear in voters as a way to persuade them to leave the EU, under the illusion that by "taking back control" of our borders we are somehow safe from terrorists. This is not the political climate I want my children to grow up in.
Speaking of Trump, this guy landed on Scottish soil this morning and didn't even know how the country had voted. Seriously, you want this guy to run your country?
That one-way ticket to Canada has never looked so appealing.
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