Friday, June 24, 2016

U.K. Referendum Disaster

The result of yesterday's referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union was both disturbing and disappointing.  It does not bode well for world harmony.  It is a victory for the xenophobic, anti-immigration forces - at least for now.  It's quite sickening to see how United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) LEADER Nigel Farage and his ilk are celebrating.

This is a time of sombre reflection for those of us who want to build bridges, not walls.. What went wrong?  Well, I've been following the referendum news from my perch here in Canada and it seems that the REMAIN side was complacent and ill-prepared.  They didn't expect to be defeated.  They didn't think it would happen, but it did.  REMAIN won 48.1 percent of the vote, while LEAVE THE EU won 51.9 percent.

The REMAIN forces had the advantage of the economic argument for staying in the European Union..  The UK is far better off economically within the EU   .  However, that argument alone wasn't enough to win the referendum.  Perhaps the pro-EU forces should have campaigned harder and more passionately.  Unfortunately, there will be a price to pay for taking victory for granted and the cost of such negligence will be high.  It's tragic because the stakes were too high for such complacency.

The repercussions of yesterday's referendum are many.  The deep divisions within the UK have been exposed.  Scotland, Northern Ireland and the London area voted strongly to remain in the EU.  The majority of dissenting votes came from outside of London and in Wales.

Without Britain, the European Union could fall apart.  Other countries could decide to leave the EU too.  Of course, the 28-nation bloc is not perfect, but why not reform it rather then tear it asunder.
At the moment, the dream of a united Europe is in tatters.  This saddens me deeply.  I worry about a domino effect.  I'm also concerned about the uncertainty and instability that the referendum result has caused.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken responsibility for his part in the debacle.  He has resigned, as he should have.  For the sake of Britain and the rest of the world, Cameron's successor must show strong leadership during this crisis and its aftermath.  The referendum result is bad news economically and politically.  Nevertheless, world-wide opposition to xenophobia and anti-immigration policies must continue.  It is vital that the new British Prime Minister fight for those values with passion and vigour.

After yesterday's events, it's more important than ever that the xenophobic Donald Trump does not win the presidency of the United States.  The world can ill-afford such a disaster.

- Joanne