A new day dawns as Britain exits the European Union – so what happens next?
On the first sunny day of British summertime a cloud looms over Britain as it breaks its forty-year forge with the European Union. With a 72 per cent turnout on voting day, the ‘Vote Leave’ camp won 17,410,742 votes, 51.9 per cent, in comparison to the ‘Vote Remain’ camp which won 16,141,241, 48.1 per cent. There was an obvious disparity between young voters who were predominantly remain in comparison to those above the age of 50.
The story so far goes like this:
- the United Kingdom leaves the EU;
- UK Prime Minister David Cameron resigns and calls for new leadership by October 2016;
- the Great British Proud has fallen to its lowest since 1985;
- United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage admits that the UK’s expenditure of £350 million into the EU that would be redirected into the NHS if we left the EU was a lie.
- Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could be replaced in a secret ballot by the Party after a vote of no confidence from ministers.
- Scotland are discussing a second referendum on independence which could result in a break in the United Kingdom;
- Bets are being placed on who will be the next Prime Minister.
And it’s only midday.
In reality, we knew there would be at least a short-term dip in the economy if the UK exited the EU. And at present, Mr Cameron will still attend EU summits and follow EU rules. We have a few years to negotiate the terms of withdrawal, rights of citizenship, future trade relationship and staying in the single market.
Once these have been negotiated, they will then have to convince politicians, including pro-European ones, which will not be easy because of the threat of other countries leaving the EU and breaking apart the entire Union.
In practical terms, we need to start thinking about the rights we have lost as a result of leaving the EU including employment laws, working hours, and rights for women. We also need to hold our ministers to account and ensure they stick to their promises. This is, however, not looking promising with Farage already u-turning on his campaign that addressed the NHS.
Emotionally, the biggest cloud hanging over Britain today is the divide between voters that view themselves as British but share different values. Where immigration dominated political propaganda of the ‘leave’ camp, resentment towards those who brought into fear-mongering and hatred over unity has not only created a divide between borders but between neighbours.
But we live in a democracy and the people have voted. Both ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ view themselves as being British so now it is time to define what being ‘British’ means so that those living within the country can regain a sense of unity in a nation that currently stands uncertain in sentiment towards one another in the streets and over the stock market, and divided in the vote that defined democracy.