Brexit was a real surprise. I think it was for almost everybody, including the people who were campaigning for it. I don’t think they really believed they would win and were only hoping to put up a really good show. As an Australian living in the UK, I was also surprised that the referendum only needed a simple majority of the people who decide to vote. In Australia, everyone must turn up to vote and a referendum needs a double-majority (a majority of overall individual votes and a majority of Australia’s states). It’s a bit bizarre that we have the UK exiting the EU while Scotland, Northern Ireland and greater London all voted to remain (Scotland had 62% vote remain, Northern Ireland 56% and London 60%).
In spite of all the arguments that we’ve already heard, I’d like to explain why I think that Brexit is the wrong direction for the UK and the world in general.
Photo courtesy of Sven Hoppe and Fotolia.
Strength comes from being united
There’s no doubt that real strength comes when people are joined together with common aims and ambitions. The irony is that even the UK is the “United Kingdom”. Could the UK be stronger if England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all became independent? Obviously not. Then we have the USA which is the “United States of America”. There’s no hiding the fact that strength comes from being united. China is also a vast country that has worked hard over the years to keep all the parts of China united and they’ve even introduced a common dialect across the whole country.
Of course unions like these are not always plain sailing. There are often arguments and groups of people who are unhappy, but that’s not a reason to think that it would be better without the union.
Unfortunately, the world wars have shown that strength coming form a union of people and countries can also be directed in bad ways. However, these still serve as clear evidence that strength comes from being united.
The European Union
The European Union is definitely the right idea. If Europe wants to grow and be strong it must be united. It must be as inclusive as possible and build the strongest union it can.
Yet it’s also clear that the current EU has a lot of problems. It seems like it wants to be a union but it also wants to be a group of separate countries. That can’t work. I can see the difficulty in Europe as all European countries have deep individual heritage and history that they don’t want to lose and this causes them to resist aspects of union that could really benefit themselves and the rest of Europe.
I see this difficulty simply when I drive across Europe, passing through France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany in the space of just a few hours, I see road signs all in different languages, different speed limits, and even different conventions for marking lanes on the motorways. I thought this would have been an easy thing to sort out and make it easier to move around in Europe. It doesn’t feel like a European Union, it feels more like a group of completely separate countries who have agreed to remove immigration and customs check-points at their borders, and partly use the same currency.
The answer to this problem with the EU is not to break it up but to fix it. Find ways to strengthen the union rather than just toss it away as a bad idea. No country can be stronger on its own compared to being part of a well functioning EU. The EU needs repairing, but it is still the right idea.
The Divisive Movement
Unfortunately, there are calls in many EU countries from nationalistic politicians demanding their countries to “be returned to them” and regain their full sovereignty. These politicians claim that everything will be better, “like it was in the past”, if they exit the union. Many people like to hear this type of rhetoric because it sounds enticing. They think back to times they thought were better and start to believe that they can go back to these.
Things were not better in the past, they were just different. We cannot go back to the past. Nobody really wants to go back to the past. It’s a ludicrous thought.
The only way is to move forward. Embrace all the new technologies and build a better world. It’s our responsibility to use our technological advances to keep improving the world. We can’t go back.
We know from history, and by just looking at the world as it is today, that the best way to be is united.
Respect and Acceptance
Nationalist politicians often talk about reducing immigration so that citizens of their countries can have the better jobs. This is completely misguided. I could argue how having immigrants can stimulate the economy and create more jobs, but I won’t go down that road.
I’d rather argue about the real meaning of borders between countries. What does it matter if two people are born just 2 kilometres apart but on either side of an arbitrary line drawn on a map? Are they really different? Of course not. But we consider them to be of two different “nationalities” and treat them very differently.
This is ridiculous isn’t it? It’s an example of some of the insane things we think and accept collectively in this world.
If we’re going to improve and have strong unions, like the EU, we must encourage respect and acceptance of everyone. This is the opposite of what the nationalist politicians are doing. They are preaching hatred and divisiveness.
Real strength starts with respect and acceptance.
Real strength starts with respect and acceptance.
Back to Brexit
The campaign for Brexit has many similarities to the rhetoric of the nationalist politicians, and it’s very sad. It’s pointing exactly in the opposite direction to that of success and prosperity. In today’s world, a country that is going to be strong, powerful and successful is one that has growing respect and acceptance for everyone in the world. It’s also a country that grows stronger and stronger ties with more and more countries in full trust. A country like this will prosper without question and be a living part of strong unions of people.
Countries that withdraw and become fearful and hateful of everyone else are doomed. They have no positive future.
No matter where the UK goes from here on with Brexit, the UK is in desperate need for an injection of respect and acceptance of others in the world. Starting with this, the UK can begin to rebuild it’s strength. This is not just a message for the UK, it’s so clearly a message for the whole world. Let’s hope enough people hear it.
- This article virtually predicted the problems the UK was going to have with the Brexit referendum – http://theconversation.com/how-is-the-uks-brexit-referendum-different-from-australian-referendums-61375
- We are not so different & how to end terrorism
- The Silent Power of Indifference
- The Brexit referendum results – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/23/leave-or-remain-eu-referendum-results-and-live-maps/
I received the following comment from Maryse. It was in French (which you can see at the bottom) and I’ve made my attempt to translate it to English here.
I really like the way Maryse has made her point. It has been well worth my effort to make a translation and record it here.
I also think that Brexit is a catastrophe, principally for Great Britain but equally for all of Europe. David Cameron is primarily responsible. He proposed the referendum for electoral reasons and, he was certain that he’d get a “No” vote. Unfortunately, today’s politicians are not big visionaries! In many countries these populist ideas are on the increase and that creates fear. Europe can only be strong united.
Populism exploits the most basic instincts of the people and plays on their fears and nostalgia of the past. For me the politicians, on the contrary, must explain things, call for reason and reflection, and not play on emotions and over-simplification.
I think that the problem is also that we have made only a Europe of commercial cooperation but not a Europe of people. Many things must be changed for the people to have the sentiment of being European. Up till now, many see only the negative aspects and most of the politicians are not capable of explaining the benefits. All that is worrying. Even in the United States this wave of populism, with a racist base like everywhere else, is strong.
Je pense aussi que le brexit est catastrophique, principalement pour la Grande -Bretagne mais également pour toute l’Europe. David Cameron en est le premier responsable. Il a proposé ce référendum pour des raisons électorales et,il était certain que le “non”au brexit l’emporterait. Malheureusement, nos politiciens actuels ne sont pas de grands visionnaires! Dans de nombreux pays les idées populistes montent et cela fait peur. L’Europe ne peut être forte qu’unie.
Le populisme exploite les instincts les plus primaires des populations en jouant sur les peurs et la nostalgie du passé. Pour moi les politiciens, au contraire, devraient expliquer les choses, faire appel à la raison, à la réflexion, et non à l’affectif et au simplisme.
Je pense que le problème est aussi qu’on a fait uniquement une Europe des échanges commerciaux mais pas l’Europe des peuples. De nombreuses choses devraient être changées pour que les gens aient le sentiment d’être Européens. Jusqu’à présent, beaucoup n’y voient que des aspects négatifs et la plupart des politiciens ne sont pas capables d’en expliquer les bienfaits. Tout cela est inquiétant. Même aux États -Unis cette vague populiste, avec un fond raciste comme partout ailleurs, est forte.