Europe is in political and financial turmoil following the referendum in Britain where 52% voted to leave the European Union (EU). It has forced the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron who wanted Britain to stay. The EU leaders are angry and want the Brits to get the hell out and not wait until October to start the process of separation. The EU itself may not survive the shock.
Friday June 24, 2016, 13:07 DST
By voting 52% to 48% in theJune 23 referendum to leave the European Union (EU), Britons have caused turmoil in the global financial markets and led to the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron who had campaigned on a platform to stay in the union. Speaking outside his official residence at 10 Downing Street soon after the referendum result was announced, Cameron said he had informed the Queen that he would be stepping down as prime minister by October when a new leader will take over. It will be for the new prime minister to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start the process of separation.
Stung by the result, EU leaders appeared less accommodating and insisted that Britain must move swiftly to negotiate leaving the organisation, saying any delay would prolong uncertainty. European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker stressed the "Union of the remaining 27 members will continue".
This morning Juncker held crisis talks with European parliament president Martin Schulz, president of the European Council Donald Tusk and Dutch PM Mark Rutte. Following the meeting they released a statement saying they regretted Britain leaving the EU but respected their decision.
Insisting that Britain must take immediate steps to start the process of separation to avoid further damage to the EU, the statement said: "We stand ready to launch negotiations swiftly with the United Kingdom regarding the terms and conditions of its withdrawal from the European Union."
As a consequence of the vote, the British pound plunged against the US dollar. The British Central Bank announced it was monitoring the situation and would intervene to prevent market volatility.
Reflecting shock and anger at British antics, the EU leaders said that the deal agreed with Cameron last February to protect London's financial markets, curb immigration and opt out of closer union "ceases to exist" and "there will be no renegotiation". This is heady stuff coming from seasoned diplomats that usually talk in much guarded tones. The gloves are off and they want negotiations on a political and economic divorce to move swiftly and get Britain out of their system as soon as possible.
The Brits have always been problematic. When the idea of the Common Market was first raised in the 1960s, Britain refused to join. A decade later when Britain wanted to join, then French President Charles De Gaulle firmly said ‘non’. It took many years and a referendum in Britain to join the Common Market that was meant to facilitate trade between member states.
When the European Union came into existence, Britain wanted special privileges. Even with a common currency, Britain has insisted on having effective control of its own monetary policy although it has had to concede some ground.
On immigration, Britain was the only odd man out. Travel between other EU member states was hassle free. Not to the UK. Even EU members had to go through immigration clearance at border entry points. These concession, however, did not appear to satisfy the Brits. They have been grumbling that too many immigrants were coming to Britain and taking jobs away from the locals. This is typical of societies that are unable to compete in the global market.
Now that Britons have voted to leave the Union, it is quite likely that the EU itself would disintegrate even if not immediately. The EU had come into existence in the wake of the US-led unipolar world. That order is long dead. When the cause for its creation no longer exists, there is little reason for the EU’s continued existence either.
The world is entering a turbulent phase in politics thanks to Britain’s misconduct. The Brits have always been global troublemakers. They can hardly be expected to act any differently but now they will face the consequences of this troublemaking at home as well.