If you’re European or just follow the news, you’ve definitely heard of Britain’s upcoming referendum on whether to stay in the European Union. With only four days to go, I thought I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write something about it. Since it’s pretty likely that I – as a current EU citizen – could be living in the UK in the future with my British boyfriend, I feel like the outcome of the referendum could have a personal effect on me, let alone the whole Europe.
So, what’s going on?
In 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold a referendum on UK’s EU membership if he was elected in the 2015 general election. The set date for the referendum is June 23rd. Britain’s possible exit from the EU has wittily been dubbed “Brexit” and would end Britain’s 43-year membership with the union.
The reason why the referendum is being held is to respond to the ever-increasing demands from British citizens. Many feel that the Union is controlling Britain too much and would want to see the country gain back some of its old power.The UK being a country that at one point in history had colonialised a quarter of the globe, it is not surprising to see its citizens disgruntled about losing power to control their own business and economy. The current refugee crisis has most likely tipped the scale lightly in favour of the “Leave” side, since because of EU regulations the UK doesn’t have much say in how many refugees the Union decides to send them.
How likely is UK to leave EU?
According to a poll by The Economist, 40% are currently in favour of leaving the EU, whilst 39% are against with 14% undecided. It’s a close call but it’s still possible that the previously undecided tip the polls one way. The Economist believes that the referendum could at the finish line turn in the favour of the “Stay” party like it did with the Scottish referendum. However, anything can still happen either way, and the fact that it’s such a close run goes to show that while people are hesitating whether leaving would be good for the country, many feel like there is a real need for change.
What could be the consequences of Brexit?
Whelp, this will be fun to follow if the Brexit does happen. There are many theories floating around at the moment, but so far nothing definitely has not been said. Obviously that would be impossible at this moment in time. There are a lot of coulda-woulda-shouldas involved, with some of the theories being legitimate while others twisting the truth to fit their needs. The below-mentioned scenarios are only a very narrow, one sided scratch on the impact that Brexit could have on the UK’s and Europe’s economy, business and job market.
The pound might weaken. If the UK exists the EU, the value of pound might go down, in short term leading to travelling Brits getting less bang for their buck and in the long term leading to the GDP of the UK being lower than what it is now. Lately the value of the pound has been shifting slightly which some say is due to the uncertainty of the situation in the country now, while others claim it’s just natural fluctuation that would happen anyway. What happens to the British economy is mainly on the mercy of new trading deals that the country would have to re-establish, this time independently. It’s a very real danger that a few big corporations would move their business to lower-cost countries in the event of Brexit.
The EU might weaken, too. The EU has always had its problems, and over the recession and financial crises of the recent years a lot of people have lost faith in the Union. Currently Britain is the third largest contributor to EU’s budget. No country has ever exited the EU before and I fear that one country leaving might lead to a chain reaction of others abandoning a sinking ship.
Travel to and from Britain might get more difficult. One of the main reasons the UK wants to leave the EU is to gain more control over its borders, which they currently can’t due to the EU policy of free movement. Some believe that even in the case of Brexit, the UK could still remain as open to the world as it is, but with the Leave party’s demand for higher control for immigration I think free movement post-Brexit would be unlikely. I can’t see the country starting to require visas to visit, but it is not an impossible idea.
I am personally carefully against the UK leaving the EU. The possibility of it worries me but not enough to keep me up at night. The situation is heating up in the UK, though, with the murder of Jo Cox, an advocate for the UK staying in the EU and an MP. The murder hasn’t definitely been shown to be linked to the referendum yet, but a few sources quote the attacker having yelled “Britain first!” while stabbing her.
It’s an interesting topic so I wanted to put my two cents in, even if they’re not worth much. I am also not an expert on politics nor an exact insider on the situation, so some of the speculations I’ve thrown in this post might not even stand on firm ground. However, I have quoted sources where I have used them, and if you’re interested in the outcome of the referendum, there’s some good reading behind the links I’ve embedded into the post.
Do you have an opinion on the referendum?
Edit June 23rd: Guys, you screwed it up.