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Good afternoon everyone,
Since last Thursday, we’ve been going through the five typical stages of a breakup: after disbelief, denial, anger, depression, we’ve finally come to acceptance: 52 % of the British voted for „Leave“ (just in case you didn’t know yet.) We’re trying to make sense of this whole Brexit telenovela, so this is a bit longer than usual.
So let’s just recap what happened:
David Cameron went down in history as a human disaster and the PM who managed to destroy his own party, probably disintegrated the United Kingdom, and put the whole European project at the brink of collapse. Well done.
The Labour Party imploded after strong criticism about the half-hearted Remain campaign. Since then, 19 members of the Shadow Cabinet resigned and Jeremy Corbyn lost the vote of confidence. Right now, the Labour party technically cannot function as a party. Well done, too.
Since last Thursday, infamous imbecile Nigel Farage disowned a pledge to spend £350 million of European Union cash on the NHS after Brexit. („What? Really? Did I say that? No way. That was just written on a bus, I never said it was happening for real.“) He also got asked what he was doing in the European Parliament by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (I somehow really, really wish Juncker had added „Go back to your country, you bloody foreigner!“)
On a more positive note that everyone seems to forget: UKIP has nine seats in the European Parliament and they just all lost their jobs. UKIP now has exactly one elected leader in Westminster. I still wonder how they manage to get so much media attention with so little political power.
But it gets even better. Since Brexit, the „Great“ British Pound went to its lowest level for 30 years, the UK lost its triple A grading, and – brace yourself – stocks lost over $2.1 trillion in value globally due to Brexit panic. Quite obviously, the Leave campaign had no idea about the mess they created. That’s why Boris or Nigel just ghosted the public in the days after Brexit. Then, Boris suddenly changed his mind and now pretends to love the EU (If you’re looking for the most sarcastic op-ed of the year, read this.) And today we learned that Boris just dropped out of the race for PM. Go figure.
But maybe the worst development since last Thursday, is that the UK is the same, yet doesn’t feel like it. Society is deeply divided. Young people have been protesting and begged to remain, because right now their future is at stake. There’s also been a worrying rise of openly racist comments and attacks on Britain’s streets. Nationalistic populists seem to feel legitimised in their endeavour to „take back control“ over their country, i.e. simmer in splendid irrelevance in the North Atlantic and dwell in their imperialistic fantasies.
Brexit has also created huge uncertainty for all EU migrants residing in the UK, who are not sure what is going to happen to them. The British should probably think twice about reducing the number of EU migration. Indeed, the NHS might crumble, not only because there will be no £350 million reinvested as Nigel promised, but mainly because there won’t be any European doctors, nurses or support staff left. Ooops.
So, to wrap it up: The British political class has completely and utterly failed, the British society is in a state of absolute disrepair and Brexit has sent shockwaves through the financial world. However, the Queen is still alive. (and it seems that some people are genuinely taking comfort from that, and with a straight face.)
Now let’s have a look at potential future developments:
Great Britain might very well become Little England, as Nicola Sturgeon went to Brussels to discuss a potential second independence referendum to keep Scotland in the EU. It’s not likely that countries fighting with independence movements such as Spain will be supportive. Only the future will tell what will happen to regions striving for independence. Maybe the political momentum has arrived to create a „Europe of the Regions“?
Looking at the other part of the Kingdom which voted remain, Northern Ireland is very likely to suffer the most from Brexit. The region is highly dependent on EU funds to strengthen civil society and make sure that Catholics and Protestants don’t butcher each other. With a Brexit, a border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will be re-created, which makes the Good Friday agreement impossible to implement. You can only imagine the consequences. But I’m sure Mike will be happy to talk about it in the next episode.
At the EU level, it’s been tough too – Germany, France and Italy met in Berlin last Friday to discuss their strategy on how to deal with such a blow to the European project (In short: The 27 other Member States stand united and the EU wants a clear-cut process once Article 50 TEU is triggered – no informal or formal discussions will happen before). On the 28-29 June, all European leaders met in Brussels for a European Council. Cameron said he wanted to keep good relations with the EU even without being a Member; Merkel made clear that you can’t have the cake and eat it too. Once the UK is out, it is out.
But the best part about all of this happened last Sunday: Indeed, England not only managed one Brexit but two in less than a week – with an embarrassing 1: 2 against Iceland in the first knockout stage of the Euro. This was just too funny not to mention it here. Go Iceland!