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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2788

Consequences of Brexit on European (Dis)Union

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

We will be in the unchartered waters next week; with the Brexit, the British referendum that determines whether Britain should stay in the European Union or not – just less than a week away, and the very nation being rattled to the core by the brutal murder of an elected member of parliament in broad daylight, uncertainty on many fronts has already started emerging at an alarming rate in proportion to the rising emotions inside both camps.

At the time of writing this column, the Brexit – British exit – is leading by a few points. Although, it is far too early to gauge the impact of Jo Cox, the female parliamentarian gunned down on Thursday, on the outcome, Brexit campaign had been enjoying a sudden surge in support in the light of significant immigration figures from the member states, especially from the less prosperous ones, of the European Union.

Although, Brexit camp managed to exploit the threat to jobs and the burden on services by the free-movement policy of the European Union within the member states, the ‘No’ campaign managed to hit back with a fairly-strong economic argument, which in turn kept the outcome as something too close to call, about a month ago; some prominent business personalities, celebrities and respected politicians lent their support for the stay-in-camp during that period – and it seemed to have worked.

Programmed by Hemantha Abeywardena

As the possibility of Britain leaving suddenly started increasing, the more powerful countries in the union even started launching thinly-veiled threats against it, citing imminent economic and political consequences. The threats, however, could not conceal the fault lines that run in the union, which may ultimately lead to the dreaded political-economical earthquake – collapsing from within.

Although, a vast majority of Europeans are highly-decent human beings, the ugly scenes that has been erupting in the recent football matches in the Euro 2016, instigated by a minority of every respective nation, on daily basis show that the centuries-old, deep-rooted hatred – and mutual suspicions – have not completely gone away, despite the collective prosperity, fairly-successful implementation of rule of law, the solidarity among the nations in the events of tragedies and of course, democracy.

In these circumstances, the combined impact of stagnant economies, falling commodity prices and foreign competition could only make things worse for the European Union, when it faces with the monumental struggle to keep it intact. If Britain leaves next week, the initial shockwaves alone will leave and indelible dent on the great European Project, which could only get bigger and uglier, when others started following suit.

At the outset, after the Second World War, the concept of European Union was politically nurtured – somewhat hurriedly - as an intrepid experiment in international governance and rule of law, as an antidote for extreme nationalism and abuse of power; it went past the aspiring stage rather quickly, before evolving into a very ambitious feat: forming a monetary union, dreaming of a common European army, recruiting and inviting more members, some of which are not even in Europe in a true geographical sense, taking steps to move certain powers from elected national governments to hand them down to unelected bureaucrats, to name, but a few.

"If Britain must choose
between Europe and the
open sea, she
must always choose
the open sea."
- Sir Winston Churchill -

Unfortunately, the bureaucratic ambitions, even if brought about in good faith, inadvertently led to forming ever-widening chasms between average European citizens and the centre of power in Brussels, the de-facto capital of the Europe Union; endless controlling and collective desire for freedom, simply cannot co-exist. In the presence of cumulative frustration, national prejudices, mutual suspicion – and loathing – old loyalties and individual national priorities started to eclipse the noble mission, as never before.

In this context, the analysts who see next week as a make-or-break opportunity for the great European experiment, have got a point, indeed; the European Union is inevitably facing the risk of disintegration, if a major power - both politically and economically - like Great Britain leaves it next week.

The ripple effect has already started taking an ominous shape: Switzerland, for instance, withdrew its application to become a member in the European Union two days ago, much to the delight of the Brexit camp. Denmark may be the next to consider its future in the union, as Danes are not known to be very happy about the way union functions.

As for Britain, a positive Brexit will result in a seismic political shift next week. It may not lead to a political vacuum, but will trigger off a hurricane of some sort with a disastrous trail over the British political landscape.

- Asian Tribune -

Consequences of Brexit on European (Dis)Union
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