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Bucharest
March 5, 2021
EDITORIAL

Brexit: The day after

Next day, probably the most surprised people by the result of referendum held on June 23 in UK were exactly the winners of the dispute at the voting, namely the ones belonging to the group promoting the exit of the island state from the EU, in the furious campaign lasting until a few hours before the voting. It’s a proof that even they didn’t believe in their victory, that they had anticipated the defeat. The surprise was extremely huge, for sure, since the Brexit leaders started almost instantly to deny the ideas promoted in the campaign, while Boris Johnson, probably the next Prime-Minister, started to preach the timing of the exiting negotiations and to assure the young generation that nothing has changed, that the facilities it enjoys following the UK membership to EU will be the same as until now.

Right after the Brexit group’s victory became certain, the dawn June 24, the social networks instantly became crazy. The financial market instantly reacted, recording serious declines, the pound dangerously fell, at the level of the few years or few decades ago, the chancelleries of the great state forces started to alert themselves, everywhere in Europe the decision makers organized emergency meetings in order to assess the situation and the consequences of this unexpected result. But why it was unexpected? Because the last minute polls indicated that the “Remain” group had the majority, a fragile one, it’s true, but it was still an advance; the bookmakers bet on this group as winner; all kinds of experts demonstrated that UK will lose everything if “Exit” will win, while voices having an important influence on the British voters advised that “Remain” is the expected and logical direction.

The British experiment in the representative democracy, consisting in the referendum with a precise question was not late to astonish by its result a few hours later. After PM Cameron – who is actually responsible for this huge historical mistake, having consequences that are not yet revealed – announced that he will quit in three months (?!?), his Scottish counterpart announced that her country, where the huge majority of the electors voted for “Remain”, doesn’t want to leave EU. Consequently, it was loudly heard from Edinburgh that a new referendum for independence is “highly probable” and that negotiations will start to this end both with London and Brussels. After a short time, similar news was heard from Northern Ireland or Wales. Would it be possible that the impact of this cataclysm of UK’s disintegration was designed by leaders of its components, which caused David Cameron not to quit immediately? Would it be the reason for which Boris Johnson has adopted an unrecognizable conciliatory tone concerning the result which for he was fighting, suggesting a delay strategy for UK’s exit from the EU? Would it be possible that this is a “damage control” strategy for a disaster that wasn’t expected at all by the Brexit supporters, aiming to be accepted by the whole political establishment of the country? However, in a country where Scotland had a referendum on the independence matter not more than two years ago, and where it massively voted for EU now, it seemed inappropriate – not to say more – that the UKIP leader N. Farage declared June 23 as the UK’s Independence Day.

Brussels has quickly answered to the London’s delaying strategy to postpone the exit from EU – in case that the target is not even to start new negotiations of the UK’s statute inside the organization. There is no other way than a quick detachment process in order not to make things even more complicated. This is a right point of view, since a prolonged unsafe situation may have bad consequences for the EU cohesion. Also the next day after Brexit, a Dutch political leader stated that time has come for Netherlands to organize a similar referendum, while newspapers in other Member States were quick to let radical Euro-sceptic voices express themselves. A quick compiled statistics indicates that requests of such direct democratic consultations were heard from parties in seven countries: France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Greece and Sweden. Therefore, soon will appear more and more insistent voices of the European officials or of the great EU actors, saying that UK’s leaving process must be rushed, that no negotiation on this country’s statute inside the organization will take place, that Cameron’s resignation must be immediate and that he is the one who has to ask for the Article No.50 of the EU Treaty on the detachment to be applied at the coming European Council which will be held on Tuesday (June 29). British elite, is implicitly asserted, must support the consequences of its dangerous game related to the fate of their country, in which they have unwisely involved the European organization’s destiny, too.

How can we explain this unexpected result of Brexit? A brief note of an article published by “Financial Times” on June 24 became viral in a few hours after the result of the referendum was announced on the social networks (the history of the comment is longer, being signed by a specialist). Here’s what this comment says, concisely issuing an explanation that would need more volumes to be detailed: “A quick note on the first three tragedies. Firstly, it was the working classes who voted for us to leave because they were economically disregarded/…/ They have merely swapped one distant and unreachable elite for another. Secondly, the younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. /…/Freedom of movement was taken away by our parents, uncles, and grandparents in a parting blow to a generation that was already drowning in the debts of our predecessors. Thirdly and perhaps most significantly, we now live in a post-factual democracy. When the facts met the myths they were as useless as bullets bouncing off the bodies of aliens in a HG Wells novel. When Michael Gove said, ‘The British people are sick of experts,’ he was right. But can anybody tell me the last time a prevailing culture of anti-intellectualism has led to anything other than bigotry?”

          Comments to this… comment have unbelievably multiplied. Some of the people were trying to explain that the history of the British Euro-skepticism is old, not recent or speculated by a part of the elite willing for power (“Anti-EU sentiment started with Thatcher and her anti-euro and anti-EU party a long, long time ago”). Other people brought their arguments to the comment’s theses, and they are famous names: “Seventy five percent of people under the age of 25 voted Remain. What a betrayal of them” (Gideon Rachman). There are not few people identifying other guilty persons for the winning vote: “Blame the deaf and blind EU regents for consistently not listening to the people.” Others do not agree with some specific points of the synthetic theses of the comment: “Only problem with the comment is that it was not an age bias in the vote but an education bias”, or “It wasn’t anti-intellectualism. This happened because a despised patrician class failed to deliver real prosperity.”

All over the world, the next day after Brexit, opinions were issued, analyzes were drawn, decision makers belonging to great state forces made statements, experts in international relations asked themselves and tried to answer where will UK and EU be in the next five months or in the next five years, and so on, and so on. I will stop at a comment that has also drawn the tensed attention of the social networks (Boris Titov, a close to Kremlin). He wrote on Facebook: “This is not the independence of Britain from the European Union, it’s the independence of the European Union from the United States. In 10 years it will be possible to talk about a United Eurasia.”

Brexit’s history is only at the beginning. To paraphrase an often cited assessment of a remarkable event, according to which even after two hundred years have passed since it happened, it was still too early to comment on it, we also could say that Brexit’s consequences are not limited to only a few days, weeks or years. But the accelerating process of the history will save us waiting for centuries.

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