The future of Europe is at stake as Britons vote yes to a historic referendum that will ultimately separate the United Kingdom from the European Union.
At the moment it seems citizens of Britain are nearly evenly split between a political decision to remain a member or leave the European Union (EU) altogether, an alliance that has existed for over 40 years. A decision to exit affects the EU greatly, Britain's superior military and its second largest economy leaves Europe at risk of a structural crisis.
What happens now? - Yesterday’s vote is a mere first step in the effort of a complete separation from the European Union. Now that Britain has said yes to an exit, David Cameron has announced his resignation as Prime Minister by October and has as a result left his successor to take the next step and invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Article 50 governs the rules, and processes in the event of a member state seeking to exit the EU, thus marking the beginning of withdrawal negotiations.
Supporters of the remain campaign will have more time to plot their exit out of the UK as a full separation is a minimum of 2 years in the future. Politicians are predicting a longer period based on the notion that the EU leaders will likely be merciless in negotiations to discourage other European countries from exiting.
A successful UK, post-EU will risk a domino effect of other member states seeking to exit thus abolishing the European Union as we know it.
Why Britons want to exit the EU? - There are a few main points centered around the referendum. Following the recent attacks throughout Europe, border control is a major reason for the request to separate. Similarly, control of laws and regulations, and influence over global trade are both reasons for the referendum.
Those in favor of the exit claim that the European Union is no longer what it was when Britain joined over four decades ago. Those on board with a leave claim they are trying to avoid an inevitable, “United States of Europe”. Arguing that the EU has served as an anchor to overall well-being of the country. More specifically, the European Union has resulted in a weakened British influence and authority. Also, the billions of dollars required to be paid to the EU as a member are too costly and such funds would be more useful distributed within the nation’s borders. The ability to regain negotiating rights for global trade deals. Also, as a nation separate from the European Union, members of parliament will be held accountable for decisions affecting the British public.
Why Britons wanted to remain in the EU? - The opposing party stands by the view that a separation would result in a major financial cost to the economy. By the same token, it would be valuable for the smaller-sized island to be part of a larger bloc of countries to have significant influence and maintain security in the world.
A majority of economists both in favor and against a leave agree that the UK will experience a negative effect on the economy as a whole in the short and medium terms. As well as the City of London, the nation’s financial center.
What does a Brexit mean for the U.S.? - As for the United States, we may see some affects from a decision to leave. Britain serves as America’s key transatlantic military ally, thus its role in Europe is strategically important to the US. A separation from the European Union would mean potential restructure of trade agreements, seeing as a non-EU Britain would force the nation into renegotiations with neighboring countries as well as countries across the Atlantic. Likewise, depending on how significantly the UK economy suffers post-leave, may affect global markets including the U.S.
In the meantime, while governments begin negotiations, EU laws will still remain effective for UK residents and British ministers will partake in EU business apart from internal EU discussions or decisions regarding its withdrawal. Topics to be discussed involve forming new trade deals, in addition to right of movement for EU nationals and British citizens. It is worthwhile to note that no other member state has ever left the EU, therefore these steps stand completely untested. Essentially, not much will change while negotiations are taking place, citizens must adhere to their daily lives and watch alongside the rest of us to see what will become of Britain and the United Kingdom.