Social Question

trolltoll's avatar

What is going on in Great Britain right now?

Asked by trolltoll (2570points) June 24th, 2016

what is happening

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13 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

49% of the heads are exploding.

Seek's avatar

If I understand it correctly:

This was a political attention stunt gone horribly wrong.

But what happened was politicians mobilized uninformed voters with racism and fear to vote for the UK to leave the European Union after 43 years.

So now, instead of having an open border for EU citizens (both in and out), they’ll now be allowed to manage their own immigration numbers.

This is being done at the expense of the value of British currency, apparently. Because who needs an economy to function, as long as you get to keep xenophobia alive?

zenvelo's avatar

There was a spike in UK google searches for “what does Brexit mean?”. And various of reports of “I didn’t think my vote would count, now what?”

ucme's avatar

I’m currently chillin by the pool soaking up some rays, later on I plan to eat pizza & drink beer

trolltoll's avatar

I must really be living under a rock. How long has this been in motion? Does this outcome have to do with the Syrian migration and fear about another Bataclan attack?

PhiNotPi's avatar

Disclaimer: I’m American (Hail Columbia!) and thus am not necessarily the most qualified to explain the chaos that is currently unfolding in the UK.

Yesterday, the UK held a big referendum to determine whether they should remain a member of the EU. The “Leave” option won with 51.9% of the vote, with “Remain” having 48.1%. This referendum has been in the works for about 3 years (from an election promise to actually being held). Most of the real campaign work happened over the past year or so.


What happens next?

The economic effects are immediate. The British Pound (GBP) has dropped 7% overnight, meaning that a lot of money just evaporated. Supposedly the UK dropped from the 5th largest economy to 6th largest (after France) because of this, although I’m not certain what this will really mean for them.

David Cameron (the current prime minister, member of the Conservative party, and a leader of the “Remain” campaign) has already announced his resignation, and he will be replaced sometime in the next three months or so. His most likely successor is Boris Johnson, another member of the Conservative Party, who was one of the leaders of the “Leave” campaign (the prime minister is not directly elected, but is the leader of the majority party). Johnson is also the former mayor of London.

The next prime minister will, within a couple months of taking office (late 2016 or early 2017), invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which is the “exit clause” of the EU. Once activated, there will be a period of two years before the UK is officially out. Until then, it is up to the UK to negotiate new trade agreements with almost every other country in the world, since all EU trade agreements will no longer apply.

One of the most important features of the EU that the UK will be leaving behind is the Single Market. This refers to the “four freedoms” of the EU: the free movement of people, goods, money, and services between EU member states. The UK will now have to start issuing visas and negotiating trade deals with Europe, on its own. The EU wants to discourage other countries from leaving, so they will intentionally make this very difficult for the UK. Furthermore, the USA and China will make their negotiations very difficult as well, since the UK will no longer have the bargaining power of the EU.

Regarding immigration, the UK will gain control over immigration from other European countries. This makes up the majority of immigration to the UK (especially from Soviet bloc countries). Leaving the EU, as far as I can tell, doesn’t really affect their ability to control immigration from the Middle East or the rest of the world (since those people are non-EU citizens, the EU has little to do with it). It will most likely have no effect on illegal immigration.

Scotland might break off from the UK. There was a Scottish independence referendum held recently in which they voted to stay in the UK. One of the main reasons they wanted to stay was that they benefited from EU membership. If they had left, then their economy would be trashed, and also the UK could have made their lives miserable by blocking deals between an independent Scotland and the EU. In this current referendum, Scotland had 62% support for staying in the EU, and the outline of Scotland is clearly visible in the maps of the results. Now that the UK is leaving the EU, however, they don’t have much to lose. A second Scottish independence referendum will almost certainly be held. It’s possible that they will choose to leave the UK to rejoin the EU. This would take a decade to accomplish, if they choose to do this.

It’s also possible that Northern Ireland would want to leave the UK, since they were in favor of staying in the EU and share a land border with the EU. This is probably less likely, but there’s already talks about holding a vote that could lead to a United Ireland. Welsh independence is less likely, since they had majority support for leaving the EU.

People who are in British Overseas Territories are going to have a bad time. Spain has already announced that it plans on pursuing control over Gibraltar, and Argentina has already stated that it is considering taking over the Falklands. In two years’ time, Gibraltar will go from an open border with Spain to a closed border. Furthermore, Spain will have the power to block any kind of deals between Gibraltar and the EU. Life in Gibraltar is about to become miserable. The Falklands, with ¾ths of their exports going to the EU (not sure how much of that is the the UK), is going to have a trashed economy as well. Both of those territories really love being British citizens, but it’s going to be hard for the UK to hold on to them. I think the overseas territories had about 95% support for remaining in the EU.

As for the EU itself, several things could happen to it. The exit of the UK could spur on independence movements in several other EU countries, which could lead to a dramatic reduction in size of the EU. Germany will undoubtedly have even more power within the EU, and several countries are afraid of a German-centric EU. Alternatively, this could lead to a more closely-knit EU. The UK was the most “different” member, with its own currency, and the new EU will have tighter control over itself. I don’t know what is more likely.

If anything is certain at this point, it is that there’s lots of uncertainty. The UK could break up, the EU could break up, or maybe neither of those things will happen.

Stinley's avatar

A very comprehensive summary by @PhiNotPi. Just a small addition which states that the working class people who voted for this because they felt that their views and needs were being ignored will suffer most from the exit and have merely swapped one distant and unreachable elite for another. This is the tragedy that we are facing

trolltoll's avatar

@PhiNotPi, @Seek, and @Stinley: thank you for helping me become a better informed person with your answers.

Is this decision reversible? Or is the UK’s exit from the EU pretty much guaranteed to happen now?

Response moderated (Spam)
ucme's avatar

As the sensible among us already knew, we’re fine, absolutely fine

Stinley's avatar

@ucme I still disagree. I don’t see that we are fine now and we haven’t really begun to exit yet. I’m sure we’ll never agree on this though.

ucme's avatar

So much bullshit was said, the assumption that Leave voters were stupid, racist, ignorant xenophobes reflected more on the bitter, crass ignorance of the losing voters & it has to be said, the majority of americans on here.

Stinley's avatar

I know, I didn’t like that at all but there was an element of truth based on demographics and reported behaviours. Of course not everyone who voted leave felt or behaved like that but there were some who were racist and xenophobic.

I hope I wasn’t crass but I certainly felt bitterly disappointed in the result. I’ve never felt even a tenth like that before about anything political. I had a very visceral gut reaction to the result and feel very pessimistic about our future.

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