26يونيو
438

Britain’s EU referendum: the trouble with democracy

The British people will not adapt soon to the new situation, in which they found themselves in starting the day after the referendum of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. 51.9% voted for their country to leave the EU, while the remain camp got 48.1%. These results have caused stir around the world, and inside Britain in particular.

Leaving the EU referendum occurred in a democratic process. But this time democracy wasn’t a happy option for everyone. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is confident that Russian President Vladimir Putin is very happy with this referendum. Turkey sees it as the beginning of the fragmentation of the European Union. The European right was doubly rejoicing this weekend, the Republican candidate for the US presidential election, Donald Trump celebrated at the golf resort, which he inaugurated in Scotland. A lady on Twitter writes “This evening my daughter left work in Birmingham and saw group of lads corner a Muslim girl shouting: Get out, we voted leave. Awful times”.

 

“Tea won’t fix this catastrophe”, says the Irish playwright Caroline Byrne. She adds, “I am heart broken over this result and am seriously thinking of leaving the UK”. Byrne, married to a British citizen and have the right to vote, thinks the reasons that pushed the voters into leaving the European Union are racist in the first place. She states “I got married to an English man and my child is happy here, but the atmosphere is horrible and I believe that people here are racist and voted to leave, primarily for this reason”. She considers the referendum out of the European Union very similar to elections, where people vote based on strong emotions, rather than voting based on reality.

The economy of the United Kingdom is the fifth-largest global economy, and the second in Europe after Germany, according to the International Monetary Fund’s statistics for 2015. The economic relationship between Britain and the EU suffers from trade deficiency of 68 billion pounds, when Britain’s exports to the EU were 223 billion pounds countries, while imports amounted to 291 billion pounds, according to the British Office for National Statistics for the year 2015. These released figures supported the claims of the EU exit camp that the United Kingdom pays to the European Union more than they benefit from it.

From Byrne’s point of view, the right wing media got a lot of airtime and played people’s fears better than the government who used economic rationale, which as you know is not as effective. “After one day of the elections (referendum), the second most searched term on Google was: What is the European Union? People did not have an idea of the stakes!” Says Byrne.

The current referendum is not the only democracy dilemma the British faced. During last April, a popular vote concerning the name of a polar research vessel, belonging to the Natural Environmental Research Council in London, took place. The British suggested the name Boaty McBoatface for the referendum, and put their full weight behind it so it won the highest percentage of votes. But the name was greatly mocked, since it had no source or origin, which led the British Government to cancel the results of the vote.

Byrne mentioned the ship name incident as an example of the need not to trust the opinion of voters who opted out of the European Union. “When the British public voted to name the new navy ship ‘Boaty McBoat face’ by popular vote the government dismissed this. So are they really going to let the ill informed electorate decide our future?”.

According to statistics published on the referendum, the voters aged 50 to 64 years accounted for 56 percent. The voters aged over 65 years amounted to 61 percent, they chose to vote for the exit. While 75 percent of young people aged between 18 and 24 chose Britain staying in the EU.

You can easily find young British nationals on social networking sites accusing the elderly of stealing their future, because they voted for Brexit. Most of them believe that it was best for their future to stay within the European bloc.“Democratic yes, but fair? It doesn’t feel like it for the large number of young people who overwhelmingly wanted to remain” says Sara Firth, a television journalist and a British reporter. She adds, “Those who have to live with the Referendum result the longest want to remain. The future of the United Kingdom and the future of the EU are with that same young generation. Young people in Britain want to stay in the EU. They feel like they’ve had that option snatched from them”.

Following the announcement of the results of the referendum, calls made by European leaders asking Britain to immediately begin with the exiting procedures rather than wait until a new prime minister is selected were remarkable. Those calls seemed to hide mutual desire of both parties for Brexit. Firth commented on this by saying, “I think they need to take a tough line with the UK. There is real concern that Britain exit will trigger a domino effect and encourage others to leave”.

Some believe that the calls for secession pose a significant threat to the peace in Europe and the world, and that the EU calls to speed up the exit of Britain is a proactive measure to reduce the size of the threat and nothing more. But at the same time, the EU Calls threaten the likelihood of success of the referendum results objectors, who wish to impose a second referendum, after more than two million Britons signed a petition to the British parliament.

Firth belief matches the beliefs of those who are wary of the threat to peace. “In short yes it does. The referendum result has meant that here in the UK the constitutional status of Scotland and to some extent Northern Ireland is back on the table. Deciding to leave the EU has not just put the peace and stability of the European continent at risk but has risked a UK break up. That’s a huge risk to be taking for what was essentially a protest vote” She said.

After the victory of the EU-Exit camp, the United Kingdom is now similar to antelope, which stumbled during his escape in a forest full of predators. The empire that has had many colonies, and painted borders of countries in a meeting between Francois Picot and Mark Sykes, is now facing disintegration, but without the shooting and bloodshed, such as the Sykes-Picot, which is currently collapsing in the Middle East borders. Calls for secession are growing in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London recently, where thousands demanded the Mayor of London, Abbas Khan, to hold a vote regarding London’s independence from Britain, in order to preserve its future with the European Union.

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