Friday, July 1, 2016

Brexit Links

I keep procrastinating on those Berlin posts, but they will get written, I swear. Quite possibly shorter than I initially envisioned, but something is better than nothing--and for today, there's something slightly more urgent.

In case you haven't been following the news, one week ago the UK voted to leave the European Union. Watching the fallout from Germany has been interesting and distressing. I have no background in politics/international relations, so I won't be offering too much of my own commentary. Here are links explaining different facets of Brexit and what it means.

The BBC has a very thorough article with major questions answered. Fairly objective and factual.

The Telegraph has statistics by region. Financial Times has some more graphs. The main sound bites in regard to demographics have been: Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted to stay, older people were more likely to 1) show up and 2) vote Leave.

This TIME article summarizes the major political consequences. David Cameron will be stepping down as Prime Minster. His resignation speech.

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, is trying to find a way to keep Scotland in the EU by holding a second independence referendum. It seems like top EU officials and member state heads are keeping distant for now (article) but Scots are showing interest (they voted 62% to Remain).

This Bloomberg article covers the basics as well as touching on economic repercussions of the Leave decision. (Obnoxiously, also has an autoplaying video.)

The EU had a meeting on Wednesday. (Washington Post article here.) Focus: how to prevent more countries from leaving (i.e. make sure Brexit doesn't set off a chain reaction), how to handle Britain's exit. No one seems to want a lengthy process. An opinion piece (also WaPo) on options for doing so.

German perspective: Der Spiegel has some explanations (link in German). More clearly disapproving. Another article (this one in English) about power struggles in remaining European leadership.

Taking a step back from the political view: the Facebook group Worrying Signs has been posting examples of xenophobic/fascist sentiment on the rise in the UK post-Brexit. A bit plank in the Brexit platform was not wanting to have to adhere to the EU's mobility laws--which, in the current context of the refugee crisis, translates to Britain not wanting immigrants.

To be honest, this result frightens me. The Brexit referendum has been on the table for a long time, but even through the spring people didn't seem to be taking it all that seriously. I remember glancing at the news earlier last week and seeing news about the financial markets stabilizing a bit because it seemed as though Remain had gone up some in the polls. If the British right can score such a dramatic victory (or, since no one yet knows how this is going to turn out, the British left at least suffered a big defeat), what's going to happen in the US come November?

I am sure that there are people who have reasoned, non-bigoted reasons for voting Leave. But in Germany all that I've heard from the Brexit side is xenophobia and racism and the same kind of worrying new nationalism that is driving groups like France's Front National and Germany's AfD (Alternativ für Deutschland) and Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, ft. the colors red white and black because apparently no one learns from history). The fact that Brexit won is emboldening nationalists, even outright fascists, and that scares me. (Incidentally, this is also why I will be reluctantly voting for Hillary. There are legitimate reasons to hate her but I fear what would happen--in the streets, not just in the White House--if Trump got elected.)

The Germans I know are worried. Germans have not forgotten the purpose of the European Union--greater economic integration, greater social integration, less war. I have come to my pro-EU stance mostly from absorbing the viewpoint of the people around me and there are definitely weaknesses, perhaps fundamental weaknesses, in the EU of which I am not aware. But the goal of nie wie da is a noble one and it is one which, apparently, 52% of British voters who showed up to the polls last week have decided is not worth pursuing.

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