CONTACTBECOME A MEMBERPRESSLINKSDOCUMENTS
Events
View all events

BREXIT – DEALING WITH THE AFTERMATH

13.09.2016

As a UK citizen who lives just south of the bustling capital city of London – I was, in particular, subjected to the heavy propaganda, scaremongering and wild claims made by both sides of this widely publicized referendum which still has politicians scrambling and just under half of the nation fuming. Due to my Italian heritage and beliefs secured firmly within multiculturalism, I personally fell on the ‘Remain’ side of this political civil war. Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson can shout all the thinly veiled xenophobic remarks they like – but no opinion could influence me more than my own mother’s!

 

But I persist – even after the disappointing referendum result – as a reluctant ‘Remain’ believer, and I share this opinion with many others (including the current frontrunner for Prime Minister, Theresa May). And this is because although I see far more benefits of remaining a full member of the European Union, I do concede that there may be various economic benefits of exiting the Union (and therefore the single market) too. But here is the issue – the key word here is “may”. The economic and social futures of my country could quite possibly reach new heights of excellence after ‘Brexit’, but if we had remained a member of the European Union, these futures would have been safeguarded and far more predictable in their development. The current state of the pound is clear evidence for this, within the two weeks since the UK population voted ‘Leave’ with a clear 52% majority, the value of the pound has been decreasing dramatically since the ‘Leave’ vote and has now decreased to its lowest level in 30 years (against the dollar). Combine this factor with David Cameron stepping down from office, the sharp rises and falls in the stock market (the lost money after the vote may have been recovered within the next week or so, but the unpredictability still shows instability in the economy) and many businesses now struggling to stay afloat due to their desperate dependency on the free movement of goods and migrants; the economy and political system in the UK is still in flux.

But as I write about the potential advantages of leaving the European Union, I am reminded of the downright lies the ‘Leave’ head campaigners spun the public. One of my main reasons for potentially switching sides in this debate (as it was for many people in the UK) was the claimed £350 million a week that would go to the NHS, meaning that our healthcare system could perhaps not have to be bailed out by the government next time it collapses. Having just spent a week working with Roger Gough (Kent County Council Cabinet member for Education and the Health Reform), this is a very tempting prospect to me due to my having seen the difficulties the NHS (National Health Service) faces on a daily basis. But this has been revealed to be a downright lie. The claim that was printed on buses and billboards all across the country was suddenly withdrawn by Nigel Farage only a day after the results were publicised. Not only do I feel cheated and embarrassed that I took the word of silly men like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage without further questioning it, I also feel that this should be considered by the legal system as a form of fraud.

But I digress. In the aftermath of the clear ‘Leave’ majority versus the ‘Remain’ minority of 48%, the smoke clears and the demographics of the voting trends in this referendum are revealed to show a strong ‘Leave’ trend with older and elderly generations whilst the younger generations seem to share a general opinion which favours the ‘Remain’ side. Although this was to be expected due to younger generations in general having a much more liberal and modernist view on global politics as opposed to older generations on the other side of the generational gap – the extremities of the voting demographics were staggering. One could make the point that it is unfair that the younger generation’s voices were muffled by the overwhelming shout of the older, even though the younger age ranges of the population will have to –on average – live with this decision for much longer. But what I found extremely interesting is that (as the Telegraph reports), a clear trend shows that the higher the level of education, the more in favour of remaining in the European Union the person was. Information taken from pre-vote polls shows that “university graduates” were most likely to vote to remain a member of the EU whilst those with a “GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) or equivalent as their highest qualification” were far more in favour of ‘Brexit’. This is an extremely interesting demographic because one could say that those with lower level or less education also tend to have far more xenophobic (or perhaps edging on plain racist) views – in detail to this point, many ‘Leave’ voters were attracted to this prospect with the idea of perhaps tightened immigration laws.

And that is exactly my worry. Although I concede – unlike some of my other very passionate and extremely left-wing friends and family members – that not all ‘Brexiteers’ can be labelled as racist or xenophobic (many fell victim to the ‘Leave’ campaign’s torn-to-shreds lies or perhaps also realise that there may be economic benefits). The problem is that the ‘Leave’ campaigner and resulting vote has given members of extremely right-wing groups like UKIP (UK Independence Party), the BNP (British National Party) and ‘Britain First’ legitimacy. This has led to many reports of those who aren’t necessarily white (but are British citizens) to be verbally attacked and abused in the street and told to “pack up and go home”, for example. Ironically, many who have fallen victim to these hateful ideologies aren’t even EU citizens! These short-term social effects that have rippled through our society in the UK are simply terrifying. Although they may not affect me personally, I know many non-white or Muslim British citizens who now don’t feel safe in their own country, a country in which I was once proud of for being so generally accepting and welcoming of multiculturalism. I now feel ashamed to call this country my home – if the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon’s, dream of an independent Scotland one day becomes a reality, I hope they have enough housing for me and all others who share my disbelief and shame.

I would say that the main negative aspect of modern politics has been illuminated in this referendum process - whoever shouts the loudest has their voice heard whilst others are muffled out. Therefore, ‘Brexit’ figureheads such as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson have had the most media coverage and therefore the farthest and most impacting influence when compared to the shy Jeremy Corbyn and quietly tactical Theresa May. One could say that there is a fair share of blame on the ‘Remain’ campaign’s side, or you could point out that one could blame the media for spreading hollow and hateful ideas simply to gain more sales. But I personally believe that the whole UK system of politics is to blame, and that is why I felt safer within the confines of the European Union. Its modernist takes on potentially hot topics like immigration, trade and bilateral relations comforts me with the assurance that my country’s future isn’t being determined by 650 ‘Old Etonians’ and other private school alumni in the House of Commons. These men who shout and jeer at each other whilst passing round gold plated American Express cards under the desks. Many half-baked truths were also instigated by major referendum players such as Michael Gove, such as that yes we did pay about £350 million a week to the EU (there’s that familiar number again) in total gross costs. But what he failed to mention is that the economic benefits and security our country gains from being a full member of this international organisation far outweigh the costs. You have to pay a hotel for them to let you stay in a room. But this is not to say that there haven’t been exaggerations edging on plain lies made by the ‘Remain’ side too.

So this is the aftermath of the UK voting to exit the European Union – a far from perfect ideology I can admit. Yes, it has its problems. Some that I take personal issue with (such as certain un-democratic institutions within the Union itself, which sits uneasily with me, to say the least) - but I miss it already. And this is despite the fact that negotiating our way out of Europe’s children’s club of squabbling infants could take up to two years after Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered into effect. Something that not many people realise is that if a deal has not been reached by the two year mark after Article 50 is invoked, the UK will effectively be kicked out the Union with no deal at all. This deadline for a deal can only be extended if all 27 member nations agree for it to be so. I would be very interested to see what the results of a survey on whether we should stay or leave the European Union would be now, because I am sure that the difference between the two opinions would either be drastically reduced or perhaps shifted in the favour of ‘Remain’ completely. And this shift in opinions throughout the nation will only intensify within the two upcoming years. But what should we do? If the population’s opinions have shifted, should we sign as many online petitions as possible? Should we march outside of 10 Downing Street and shout “Shame, Shame, Shame…” (Game of Thrones has now permeated into British politics, congratulations HBO) at our leader (who is hiding under his bed, presumably)? In my opinion, no we shouldn’t. I believe in the power of the people as much as the next person, but it is sadly naïve to put your faith in the loosely worded Article 50 - there won’t be another referendum in many of our lifetimes, I expect. Most victorious ‘Brexit’ campaigners and Theresa May herself have stated that they won’t rush into invoking Article 50 so that a fair deal can be decided upon and various preliminary conversations can take place first. It is still slightly unclear at this point whether Article 50 requires a parliamentary act to be passed or not because there is a claim from the Cabinet minister, Oliver Letwin, that Article 50 can be invoked under royal prerogative instead.

But what I do believe in without a shred of doubt is democracy – and democracy has spoken. Just like the European Union, democracy as a political system is flawed but I share the opinion that Churchill had - “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”. And that is why we have to respect it. If we disregard democracy at crucial moments in our country’s history such as now, then what is the point in having it? What if after the next referendum on an issue, the result that you believe to be morally right swings in your favour… But is then taken away from you again? That isn’t democracy. But making the best of a bad situation is. Throwing a tantrum about how we need to invoke Article 50 and how we need another referendum is just adding to the fire – it is adding even more to the social problems we are facing today. What we need to do is make sure the new laws and regulations concerning topics such as immigration are fair, what the country needs, and what it deserves. Ironically, I expect most new regulations the UK government will decide upon will be extremely similar to our previously cherished European Union laws.

 

It is moments like these that I wish I was able to vote and be able to have a say in the future of our country – because as aforementioned, it will affect my section of the population demographic the most crucially. But alas, I placed my faith in the older (and supposedly wiser) generations and my expectations fell short of the harsh reality that Britain’s “Independence Day” will impose on myself and 64.1 million people.

 


 

Gabriel Rastelli is a sixteen-year-old student from the UK who attends Cranbrook School just south of London. He is about to begin studying English Literature, Government and Politics, Classics and Economics at an advanced level, with the aim of studying Politics at university. Gabriel has recently gained 10 GCSE qualifications, the vast majority of which were at an A grade or above. He has recently worked with the Kent County Council Cabinet Member for ‘Education and the Health Reform’, Roger Gough, to further expand his political knowledge.

 

"Earlier on this summer I had the honour of being able to work with the well-established and respected European Movement in Serbia. This work experience I partook in not only allowed me to expand my knowledge of both international politics and the European Union, but also gave me invaluable experience of Serbia itself."

 

Gabriel volunteered at the EMinS in July 2016.

 


  •  

     

  •  Belgrade Security Forum

  •    

  •  

    National Convention on the European Union

  •  

     

  •  

    OCDoskop

  • Beta press

  • Chamber of Commerce and Industry Serbia

  • EurActiv.rs

  • Slovak Aid

  • Evropa Plus