Today, the United Kingdom made history by being the first country to vote to leave the European Union. To provide a little background, the European Union (often known as the EU) is a politico-economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It functions as a “single market” which allows goods and people to move around freely, basically as though it were one country.
Yesterday, on the 23rd of June, the U.K. held a referendum on whether to remain or leave the EU. The act of leaving has been nicknamed the “Brexit” – a combination of the words Britain and Exit. And as a shock to almost everyone, the vote to leave won with 51.9% of the votes.
The U.K. has made a horrible mistake, one that is irreversible, and one that I have no doubt the people will regret for many years to come. As a matter of fact, some leave voters are already regretting their decisions.
I was speaking with a 60+ year old woman today, who voted to leave, and she told me that she didn’t expect the referendum to go through. She said that if she could vote again today, she would vote remain. And she is not the only one.
Many voters who voted “leave” yesterday are saying that they would vote differently if given the opportunity again.
Well it’s a little too late for second thoughts and regrets.
The vote is final, and although there are calls for a second referendum, it is unlikely that this will occur. With just a tiny voting margin, the U.K. has decided to leave the EU after 40+ years. This in itself makes very little sense. For a change this big, there should be a requirement that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% there should be another referendum.
With a vote of 51.9% to 48.1%, the nation is completely divided.
The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting. It was the highest turnout in a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election.
Here are how the different regions of the UK voted:
Northern Ireland – Remain (55.8% to 44.2%)
England – Leave (53.4% to 46.6%)
(London – Remain)
Wales – Leave (52.5% to 47.5%)
Scotland – Remain (62% to 38%)
What’s even more interesting is the disparity between young voters and older voters. The youth of the UK has been left absolutely devastated after the outcome of the vote. This quote from Nicholas, a reader of the Financial Times, sums it up perfectly:
“The younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the full extent of the lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied. 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.”
The Leave campaign says that the country is more united after this vote, but here is a list of just some of things that have happened since the result was announced this morning:
- Prime Minister David Cameron has announced his resignation
- UKIP leader, and pro-Brexit candidate, Nigel Farage has said that the claim that leaving the EU would allow for £350 million to be spent on the U.K.’s National Health service was a “mistake.” (This was one of the major reasons why leave voters voted the way they did.)
- The pound has slipped to a 30-year low
- The UK has slipped down to the 6th largest economy
- Right-wing leader across Europe have called for their own referendums
- Confirmation of another Scottish independence referendum
- Calls for an Irish reunification referendum
- Citizens of London have called upon London mayor, Sadiq Khan, to declare London’s independence and join EU
So what remains after all this?
A struggling EU.
Wales. And England without a capital.
The Brexit has polarised the nation like never before. The “United Kingdom” is currently anything BUT united.