The EU marriage is over, the divorce has been issued, and all that remains is negotiation of assets
I went to bed last Thursday night at 11 pm, rather late by my standards. As a Brit Ex-Pat, I was riveted to the vote, and watched the results online, hopping from ITV, Sky News, to BBC. It was amazing to watch, and the result was equally astounding and amazing to see unfold before your eyes. I went to bed, before the official count was made final, and I was pretty confident that BrExit would win.
Let’s all take a “chill pill” for a moment, and breathe
This democratic, and I emphasize “democratic” referendum by the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is the will of the people. If the British Parliament and the resigning PM are to be taken seriously, they all need to take the result for what it is, the will of the people to leave the European Union (EU). We citizens of democratic nations respect the law, and respect the democratic process, and this referendum is no different. The outcome, the results needs to be respected, embraced, and dealt with, so that the change is transparent, negotiated for the mutual benefit of all parties, with candor and understanding.
We all need to take that proverbial “chill pill” and breathe. We all need to just breathe. We need to take it all in, and begin to process the implications for us as individuals and as citizens of a global economy where a decision in one nation can affect the whole world entire. With the financial influence of London being a key component of not only the EU, but the entire globe, the impact of BrExit has huge impact for all nations, and it affects my own adopted homeland of Canada in profound ways.
The need for “civil discourse” and a good workable exit strategy is necessary for all
Analysis of this historic vote, 23 June 2016, will go on for quite some time to come, and there will be books and documentaries and TV shows with pundits and experts who will tear apart the results to find out why this happened as it did. The Eurocentric proponents (Remain Movement) have as much to ponder on as those who were part of the Euroskeptics movement (Leave Movement). This is no time to slack off, and rest and say it is “job done!” No one can do that, not in the UK, the rest of the EU, or any other nation that is part of the global economy.
We need to acknowledge that “divorces” happen, even between nations and trading blocks of nations
There is a huge need for civility, and cool heads, and a lot of negotiating to do, not only for the breakup of the EU as it suffers its first (of what I hope will be many) such “divorces. As in all divorces there will be a negotiation of the respective assets and how they are to be divided. The eyes of the world are on the UK and EU now, and will be for the next two years as the negotiations and procedures of leaving are put into workable actions that hopefully will not topple the economies of the world. Everyone wants this divorce to go as smoothly as possible for all the parties involved. There is mutual agreement from those in the process, and the observers that this should be done with cool heads and with a sense that what they do affects the global community, and not just their own constituents. Sanity must prevail in order to have the best outcome possible.
All the experts and commentators are all saying the same, there were more reasons to leave than to stay
Sounds like a relationship problem doesn’t it? There are more reasons to leave than to stay? For sure. You look about you and you and I both have friends and acquaintances that appeared to have pretty functional and successful relationships, and they have separated and then divorced. Some of us know this intimately, in our extended families, and even in our own families. I am blessed to be in a good marriage and I thank God for that, and I thank my wife for that too. But both my wife and I know that our relationship takes a lot of work and a lot of give and take and a lot of communication, and understanding, and the making of hard decisions that lead to good decisions and a workable plan to put our decisions into good practice and choices for ourselves and our children and those win our circle of influence.
The EU was a bad marriage that got worse over time
Now expand the illustration further, and move from a marriage relationship, to the relationship of nations in international partnerships. The same dynamics apply. In regards to the EU, its precursor, the European Community, was intended to be a trading block, to remove trade barriers, and to make the movement of trade and goods easier for all the member nations, and to become a large trading block where all the members shared trade. At least that is what the talks were about between the EC (EU) when the UK, Ireland and Denmark voted to come into the EC in 1973.
When the EC became the EU in 1993, the EU expanded in its power and influence in the member nations, and became an over centralized political bureaucracy run from Brussels and Strassbourg, that exuded way too much influence over the sovereign affairs of the member nations. The more the nations attempted to integrate and make all “Europe the same from the Baltic to the Atlantic, to the Mediterranean, to the North Sea”, the more citizens lost the power to make their own political choices for their own nations. The integration of the economies with the Euro, the development of EU laws and treaties, where national citizens got neither a vote or say, the passages of laws without accountability and without representation, all made this bureaucracy a non-democratic entity that exuded way too much power, and in the end it became a non-functioning, non-accountable dictator and suppressor of citizen’s rights. Up until BrExit, the EU has compelled nation states to have multiple referendums until they got the desired result. This time this will not happen.
The BrExit vote is the natural outcome of the people who said that enough was enough, and that they want their country back and want their sovereignty back. The UK outcome states clearly that the country is divided between the have and the have nots, and it is divided by people who have a view that democracy needs to be in the hands of the people, and not in the hands of governments who just want to wield power and enforce the will of foreign entities and governments and institutions that are not elected or represented by them. The rest of the EU is shaken by this reality. Democracy has re-awoken in Europe. It scars the crap out of Brussels, Paris and Berlin. There are other EU nations that will face a EXIT referendum in the next few years. BrExit was the first domino to fall and it certainly will not be the last.
BrExit and its impact on the UK nationally and regionally
The UK has embraced devolution over the last two decades and this needs to continue within the UK. All the nations have benefited from devolution. The British Parliament needs to work with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to make further changes to the devolution of powers, and admit and encourage wider and deeper democratic reform and regional governance to these respective nation states within the British Union (UK) which has existed since 1803. Culturally, economically, politically, there needs to be more done for these regions and more attention spent of making the devolution work. There needs to be more visible empowerment and more regional autonomy for these regions. The British Parliament has to evaluate the process moving forward. The Conservative Party and their new PM (whoever that will be) and his cabinet will have their work cut out for them. There will be no doubt that the new PM will have to deal with more internal referendums on independence, from both Scotland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland presents itself in a unique way, as in their context, you have the community that wants independence, one wants independence from the UK in order to join the Irish Republic and form on nation on the island of Ireland. The other one faction wants independence from the UK, to become a separate entity entirely, as a separate Ulster, separate from London and separate from Dublin. It makes for interesting political intrigue to see what develops.
There are threats that BrExit will cause more referendums in Scotland and Northern Ireland
There are those who are concerned that the leaving of the UK from the EU will cause the breakup and demise of the UK, and that there will be referendums for a Scottish independent state and a reunification of Ireland. That is not likely to happen. First, they will need to fight for the opportunity for a referendum, and it would be silly to postulate leaving the UK without knowing what the UK negotiates in the next two years with the EU as far as trade deals and treaty associations they will find mutually beneficial. The UE cannot be hardline on the UK, and neither can the UK be hardline with the EU. They will let this cooling off time come, and they will decide after there is a new Conservative Prime Minister, and they will invoke section 50 of the European Union, and the clock will be on to work out a deal.
For both Scotland and Northern Ireland to presume it will be a necessity to remain in the EU, is simply wrong. People need to wait and see what will be negotiated, and then they will need to determine if a referendum is warranted. There are political opportunists here who do not like the vote for leaving the EU, and as such will use this BrExit result to promote their own vision of separation from the Union of the UK. It is Westminster that will ultimately decide how the devolution continues, and whether or not to accept even the findings of a Scottish or a Northern Irish referendum. The governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland can submit the referendum results, but the Parliament of Westminster does not have to act on the findings of their referendums, even if their respective “leave” campaigns have a decent majority over 50 %.
The Scottish people in the BrExit results managed 62% of the vote for remaining in the EU. The Scottish Parliament cannot dismiss the other 38% of Scots who voted to leave the EU. That was well over 1 million Scots who voted to leave the European experiment. The Scottish Parliament would err considerably if it thought it could anger the 38% of Scots who wanted to leave. It is to the benefit of Scots to wait and see what develops over the next two years.
The Northern Irish have their own issues to deal with, and the ones campaigning for a “border poll” are those same separatists who waged the IRA troubles for over three decades. These people are opportunists to push their ongoing agenda to reunite Ireland. The Westminster Parliament and the Stormont Parliament will not allow that to happen. Again, cooler heads must and will prevail in Norther Ireland, as this parliament already knows, that all people, need to wait and see what is negotiated, and both Stormont and Holyrood parliaments will be in the forefront of negotiations that will act on the interests of Northern Ireland and Scotland as the UK negotiates a new deal with the EU. There is no need to panic.
BrExit has international consequences
Internationally the impact of BrExit will be felt in the markets and especially in the financial sector as the EU has lost is financial centre for dealing with the rest of the global economy. The markets have not responded well but the Conservative government has put in place measures to soften the blows of the reactions around the globe.
One of the realities is that we are now in a transition of new things that were not accounted for. Now the predictable forecasting is out the window. All the nations that deal with the EU in the global marketplace are faced with this new reality. This is not just affecting the UK. This is going to affect all the important nations and trade blocks. The UK cannot be dismissed out of hand. The fact that Germany’s Angela Merkel is calling for cool heads and waiting for the UK to absorb the referendum results and new leadership that will start the negotiations sometime in the fall is a good sign. There are some EU bureaucrats that really need to take a chill pill as they are really acting like immature teenagers having a hissy fit right now!
There are movements within the EU where nation states have political parties committed to the same ideology as the UKIP, to take their respective nations OUT of the EU. This is not going away. No matter how quickly the UK divorce is from the EU, there are other key countries facing the same kind of proposition. France, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Denmark are all among the nations where significant portions of their populations are wanting to leave the EU, for the same reasons that the UK has now voted to leave the EU.
Coolness, unpacking, re-creating a new relationship
I am convinced that this new day of new beginnings for the UK, the EU and the rest of the globe is a new opportunity to reinvent ourselves and to not take the concept of “working democracy” lightly. There is a need for everyone around the globe to take time to absorb the new reality.
I believe this should include:
- A time of sober reflection on the part of the UK and the EU member states. The invoking of article 50 which starts the negotiations is left to the nation state that is leaving the union. It cannot be forced by the EU. The UK needs to take time, time to reflect, time to elect a new leader of the Conservative party, and time to put their ducks in a row, BEFORE invoking article 50.
- There needs to be a time for the UK parliament and the British public service specialists, to form the talking points of what is needed by the UK in this divorce, and also a plan set in motion for all the branches of the government that will need to be reinvented in light of the new reality.
- All treaties signed as a member of the EU must be evaluated and a counter to that treaty developed by the committee formed by the UK government, so that the new reality will have traction in being negotiated and implemented smoothly.
- The creation of departments to make the transition easier for all parties concerned when it comes to making all the key aspects of the new treaty realities doable. These departments should be looking at being the bridges of transition from the EU to UK and UK to EU.
- There should be a working group looking at all the common issues that can quickly be transformed upon which there are not many differences between the EU and the UK. Where there are differences it is in the legal authority and that would change from the EI and the European Parliament in Brussels to London and the Westminster Parliament. * THIS was a big issue in the referendum, and if the nucleus of these departments and institutions are essentially the same in protocols and services, then it is their sovereign administration will need to be changed, and changed smoothly and quickly, recognizing the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament.
- There should be a joint committee within the UK were all four regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all come together to speak of creating the necessary departments, and the administrative and financial supports for a seamless transition to the new reality of a sovereign United Kingdom. There needs to be much communication and discussion on how to replace the EU departments that affected the daily life of the UK the last four decades. There also needs to be full participation by all these parliaments to develop what is needed, and also the means and the will for more devolution of power from Westminster to the other parliaments where it is required. This joint committee should have elected members, including cabinet members, as well as bureaucrats with their expertise, that will meet regularly over the short term as the ideals of a new deal are formed for negotiations with the EU.
One thing is certain. It is NOT business as usual in the EU and the UK and it will not return to business as usual. The UK does not want a political union, which is the driven vision of the EU which has demanded more and more political integration. The people of Europe have been dragging their feet on this issue and other nations in the EU are seeing the rise of more parties like UKIP growing and calling for a return to a working democracy where the people have actual say and power to not be ruled by elitists in another country. This is REDEFINING democracy in the UK and it is going to do the same in the EU. The voter anger and frustration is going to be the catalyst and agent of change.
Whoever stands against the will of the people will suffer terribly. It will become political suicide and it will push the nations of Europe further to the right. BrExit was not a warning shot. BrExit was the first domino to fall and many more will fall, and then the European experiment will finally be over. And personally, the day the EU crumbles and turns to ashes and disappears, is a day I will find myself satisfied. The EU must go.
National democracy must be restored and people be empowered to embrace their own national identities and destinies, without the tyranny of Brussels, Paris or Berlin.
There will be trade agreements, and cultural agreements, but those need to be left to nation states to decide. All is not lost. It is just in process of being reinvented. Be cool. Jump in and become part of the solution. The EU wasn’t working. Embrace this new moment and new day of possibilities. The future is set before you. Make it work. The work has only begun.
~ Samuel M. Buick