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So someone asked me to explain the EU referendum and what might happen next, and like the last time someone messaged me related to a UK political event, I wrote an essay. Seriously, I could write a book detailing the reasons why the vote went the way it did, what might have swung it, what's most likely to happen next, what could happen next, what could be done to make the best of the situation. I feel like no one would read it and by the time I finished it most of what I'd be predicting would either happen or be proven wrong, but hey ho. Anyway, I felt like sharing it here in case anyone else had anything to add or say about it.

QUESTION ... this whole Brexit vote, were you expecting this? And like, what exactly is it and what are the ramification? All I know is that the UK is voting on whether or not to leave the EU. 

ABRIDGED VERSION
I thought it'd go the other way, it's like the USA but less so, and the shit is in the process of hitting the fan.


LONG VERSION:
I knew it was going to be a close run thing, but I expected Remain to pull through in the end, much like No won the Scottish Independence referendum. In referendums, the status quo usually has the advantage of being the status quo - normal people know the pros and cons of it and decide that the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. So for the change vote to actually win takes some doing, even by as narrow a margin as this. I'd not seriously considered that it would actually win, so I'm caught off guard and feeling incredibly depressed about the whole ordeal.

The European Union is essentially a free trade area that has evolved into something resembling a federal government, but loose enough that the states involved are still sovereign nations rather than simply different parts of the same country. Under the existing set up, I could move to and work anywhere within the EU. The EU is also able to subsidise industries across borders, fund science projects, regulate industry standards (particularly where enviornmental concerns are raised). There is also the European Economic Area, also known as the single market. As a condition of being in the EEA, free movement of people is a non-negotiable condition. The single market is the original function of the EU, back when it was the EEC (European Economic Community). And within those is a smaller area called the Eurozone, which are the group of nations who have officially adopted the Euro as their currency.

There are several main reasons why people in the UK had grown tired of the EU. The most common and most significant is immigration. During the great recession and the never-ending trudge of a recovery, people have felt their living standards slip, their incomes squeezed, and their futures uncertain. Through the interplay between the media, culture, and politics, much of this ends up being blamed on immigrants, not the actual economic crisis that caused it. On top of this, the Conservative Party - and David Cameron in particular - has talked up how the recovery has been going. People wound up believing that the government was probably doing it's job (hence why they voted for them last year) and have instead pinned the blame on Brussels, something Cameron had been doing here and there as a convenient way to get people off his back. Other reasons include concerns about laws applying to Britain being made without British consent, the opacity of the EU's decision making process, their treatment of governments who choose to oppose austerity, and their handling of the refugee crisis. 

Cameron originally placed the referendum on the Tory party manifesto in order to try and undercut UKIP's support base as well as shoring up the support the eurosceptic wing of his own party. He calculated that he wouldn't get enough MPs to govern alone, and so could ditch the referendum promise during coalition negotiations and blame it on the minor party - a strategy he'd been doing quite well with the Liberal Democrats for the 5 years prior. However, having won an absolute majority - and having that majority be smaller than the number of MP's in his part demanding the referendum - he was backed into a corner and had to hold it. He originally set the date as late 2017, but moved it sooner so as to get the uncertainty out of the way and head off any prolonged effects of that uncertainty on the economy. So that's how we got to yesterday.

The most instant ramification of the whole thing started playing out as the first results dribbled in. The value of the pound rose as the earliest remain results came it, but dropped dramatically as the picture became clear. The drop in the pound was the largest in nearly 40 years. The last of my money in the UK lost the equivalent of $40 Canadian worth of value overnight. Some companies have already started announcing movement of staff and/or job cuts. We'll likely see the UK being overlooked by many companies wanting to set up EU based headquarters, favouring either Ireland or Germany. European leaders have already said that Britain will not be allowed access to the single market, and while there are two years of negotiation ahead where this stance could soften somewhat, even a less harsh outcome would still have impacts on businesses in the UK and the economy as a whole. On the whole, in terms of living standards, the price of goods (a weak pound will make importing more expensive), and financial stability, there will almost certainly be either an impact or a steady decline. Brexiters may well end up being able to say "see? that wasn't so bad" because most of the decline happened over the course of two years of negotiation, rather than on the day of leaving itself. Additionally, poor areas of the UK receive noteworthy amounts of investment from the EU. These same areas tended to be the strongest leave vote areas, meaning there may be something of a karmic effect where the leave voters reap most of what they sow.

The real chaos will likely be focused around Scotland and Northern Ireland. Both of those regions of the UK voted to remain, and both have strong nationalist movements within them, one for Scottish independence, the other for Irish reunification. It is very likely that there will be another Scottish independence referendum either during the negotiation process or within a couple months of the UK's official exit, and when it does happen, there will be little that England or Wales could do to stop them walking. The SNP have the momentum, and now also concrete proof of England dragging them about and disregarding them. If another referendum goes ahead there, Great Britain will be divided for the first time since 1707. Northern Ireland's referendum is less likely, but if Scotland goes then that will definitely embolden them. It's hard to say which way it would go if it went ahead, but I think we'd be able to get a sense of the support for it over the next couple years or so. Either way, the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" is a title that's approaching it's use-by date.

In the next year or so we'll see the early stages of that begin to play out, but we'll also see the Tory party go through a leadership contest. One big surprise is the emergence of Micheal Gove as a contender, but his reputation among teachers, parents, and lawyers is likely to play against him having good odds. It looks like it could well come down to Theresa May and Boris Johnson, with George Osbourne lurking nearby. The Tories will try to smooth the transition so as to avoid a general election, but the pressure could be mounting from the general public could force on through. It's not the most likely scenario, but it's definitely plausible. If the government manages to not implode in the time during the exit negotiations, it will probably limp on until the end of it's term in 2020.

2020 is still too far away to make any educated guesses, but if an early election became possible (which might be more likely if the election spending scandal results in any invalidation of certain election results) it could well depend on Labour's ability to present a united front. Labour MPs have been a bit of a house divided against itself since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as it's leader. The rightwing side wanted someone more like Tony Blair, despite Tony Blair's unpopularity with the British public, and have been making things very difficult for Corbyn. Plus, they now resent Corbyn (who's tendency is toward Euroscepticism) because he is accused of failing to lead Labour strong enough for the Remain campaign. If Corbyn and his allies are able to bring the dissenters into line and present a strong alternative, it could draw in enough voters in England and Wales to make a coalition with the SNP plausible. However, the big threat is UKIP. Despite having produced the result they were set up to create, UKIP would likely be a strong force in any snap election, as Leave voters will feel validated and see themselves as having more in common with UKIP than with any other party. This could lead to a Tory-UKIP coalition if it's strong enough to claim enough seats - most of which would fall from Labour's control. So we would have Labour severely weakened, Tories losing their absolute majority and requiring a coalition or other form of co-operative governance, UKIP ascending, and the SNP sealing their Scottish gains indefinitely. The UK has never been as divided as it is right now, and an election result that looks like that would definitely be what I consider a worst case scenario. And unless Labour is able to start reaching people and stop attacking itself, it's also unfortunately the most likely scenario of a snap election. I do think, however, that if enough people could be convinced to back Labour on the fact of Jeremy's antiestablishment credentials, a Labour government, even a minority one, could become feasible.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconowl-feather27:
Owl-Feather27 Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2016  Student General Artist
Basically, more than half the UK seem to now realise how much everyone fucked up. It's
honestly kinda funny.
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2016  Professional Filmographer
And the rest of the people are doubling down and claiming it's still a good idea. XP
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:iconowl-feather27:
Owl-Feather27 Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2016  Student General Artist
The rest of the people are idiots. In fact, half the world are idiots. If they weren't, Brexit would be non-existing and the Annoying Orange would've been out of the elections about a year ago.
Reply
:iconironbearroper:
ironbearroper Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2016  Hobbyist
is it wierd that im going to miss David Cammeron, especially given what some people are saying about the people who may replace him
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2016  Professional Filmographer
Yeh, I never thought I'd look at Cameron as being sensible, but comparing him to the alternatives, it's just sad when you realise how crazy everyone at the upper end of his party is.
Reply
:iconsulpsulk:
sulPSulk Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2016
Honestly, from what little I'd heard of him, I had at least pegged him as being halfway sensible in general...

Then again, I'm not British and have not much involvement in British politics in general except now.

Really just goes to show how much democracy can be fucked over with and the people holding it up as a sacred cow, whether they voted Leave or Remain (Though as it were, it's most likely someone on the winning side who's gloating about it), or especially if it's seen as the only sacred cow at the time, can go get fucked.

...kinda wished I could insert that more smoothly from my perceptions of David Cameron, but I think that is what pisses me off about the UK leaving the EU more than anything else about this, even as someone who IS a general proponent of democracy as a political system, alongside the xenophobia that has come to light as a result of this vote.
Reply
:icontoon92:
Toon92 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
So in short, we're boned and the UK may have ANOTHER rescission and possibly go bankrupt?
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2016  Professional Filmographer
Basically. I think national bankruptcy is unlikely, but a recession and job losses are almost a given at this point.
Reply
:icontoon92:
Toon92 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Even if we get to do a re-vote?

There was a petition going around and it exceeded the signatures needed to be taken to Plariment and we may get to do a re-vote

If we do get a Re-vote and we stay with EU after all, is there hope or are we still doomed? I REALLY don't want my brother growing up wondering why mum has to choose between good food and paying rent? That's not a life. That's survival.
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Professional Filmographer
It's unlikely to get that far - there's also some controversy because some (not most, but some) of the signatures on it seem to be fake. It'll still get considered and responded to, but I think there's little to no appetite among the political class to go through all of this again to possibly end up with the same result. Plus, many European leaders have taken this result as the final answer, so it would be difficult for the UK to negotiate for itself within the bloc anymore anyway.
Reply
:icontoon92:
Toon92 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
So that's it. We've done irreparable damage and the world will hate us like they hate the UK?
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Professional Filmographer
The issue now is damage control. Negotiating a good enough deal with the EU, maintaining relationships with the US and elsewhere, and trying to shield the majority from the negative economic effects that we may well see more of when markets open tomorrow. On that last point I have no confidence in the current government - we need a general election as soon as possible and replace it. My preference would be for Corbyn's Labour if it's not imploded before then.
Reply
:icontoon92:
Toon92 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
That's easier said than done. Either way, I don't see the Pound going up again before I'm 30. (I'm 23)

And NOBODY had confidence or even LIKED Our Government but we only had our election last year

I'm now worried if my dad will lose his job and he's in his 50's so he might not get another one. My brother who is just old enough to understand this mess is worried too. My brother has to grow up in a rescission

I'm also worried that if things get so bad, we may lose the NHS.
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Professional Filmographer
I share your worries - particularly surrounding the NHS. The leaders of the Brexit campaign were, by and large, people who are on the record as having backed a privatised NHS. So knowing that that wing of the Conservative party will now be wielding the referendum mandate to exercise influence is worrying.

What job does your dad have at the moment? Certain industries are at greater immediate risk than others, particularly finance right now.
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconbbasco2:
bbasco2 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2016
"May you live in interesting times".
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2016  Professional Filmographer
I see exactly why that's a curse now.
Reply
:iconbbasco2:
bbasco2 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2016
My Significant Other commented (quite tongue in cheek mind you) upon hearing the result of the vote:
Great. Just great. One more thing to apologise for when travelling abroad:
  1. Apologise as a Briton for Brexit for ruining the EU
  2. Apologise as an ex-pat living in Americaland for Bush, Obama, Hillary, and Trump ruining everything north of Tasmania
  3. Apologise as a fair-skinned person for "obviously" being a racist, imperialist bigot who ruined everything on the planet

My family and extended family were pretty evenly split between the stay/leave decision. What frightens and disturbs me is that anyone moderate who had a reasonable vote for "leave" is going to have their vote co-opted and drowned out by the crowing and gloating from UKIP and SNP.

This came to mind


...

After talking with friends and neighbours, I see something similar happening in the United States over the whole immigration issue in a few years time (USA seems to lag behind by a few years): Lots of people in the southern portions of southern border states cheering Trump on with his ridiculous "Great Wall of New Calitexizona" because they are tired of being ignored and the government's (local, state, and federal) inaction to deal with illegal border crossings and armed drug gang militia incursions into their towns and cities.

By and large they don't have issues with immigration in general; they and their parents, and grandparents were legal immigrants more than likely. It is the illegal (as in "breaking the law") part they have problems with. Unfortunately, "problems with illegal immigration" gets equated with "problems with all immigrants in general" by the extremists on both sides.

If they try to air their grievances, they either get shouted down as "xenophobe bigots" by groups who want to ignore national sovereignty and national laws or they get co-opted by the genuinely racist, "anti all immigration" xenophobes because they are the only people who will listen and do something about the crisis they are facing.

"Interesting times" indeed
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Professional Filmographer
And even then, calling for action on illegal immigrants is a bit daft because a) they were already illegal in the first place, we're already trying to stop them, and b) most illegal immigrants were just legal immigrants who (accidentally or otherwise) overstayed their visa. The ones in the back of trucks in the Channel Tunnel are the exception, not the rule.

And yeh, I've already seen a Facebook album someone had made collating instances of xenophobia or bigotry that were either committed or recorded afterwards on social media. When I shared it, it had 60 examples. By the end of the day it had over 110. The far right is emboldened and encouraged - fringe views are now breaking cover and seeping into the mainstream. Accidentally or otherwise, this referendum has burst a very important levy. 
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:iconw4t3rf1r3:
W4t3rf1r3 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2016  Student Traditional Artist
> The European Union is essentially a free trade area that has evolved into something resembling a federal government

That was the whole reason I supported this. I confess that I'm worried about being proven wrong.
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2016  Professional Filmographer
Well, it's still very different to the USA's situation. Plus, in a globalised world where we're competing with the US's 350 million population, and China & India's billion each population, it's usually better for smaller countries to bloc together because alone they just can't compete. So yeh, it could go tits up for the UK, and for Europe if this leads to further disintegration - which is far more likely now the populist right wing across Europe is triumphant over this.
Reply
:iconw4t3rf1r3:
W4t3rf1r3 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2016  Student Traditional Artist
I'm just hoping my initial assessment ends up correct, because if it was, this won't end up terrible.
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Professional Filmographer
How do you see things playing out?
Reply
:iconw4t3rf1r3:
W4t3rf1r3 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Student Traditional Artist
My hope is that this leads to the EU becoming more democratic, and that ties between the UK and the rest of Europe stays de facto about 90% the same, basically like what they have in Switzerland.
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2016  Professional Filmographer
My worry is that it'll be too busy dealing with crisis after crisis for it to be able to effectively reform enough to stop itself imploding, especially if the FN win the French presidential elections next year.
Reply
:iconw4t3rf1r3:
W4t3rf1r3 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2016  Student Traditional Artist
You're not the first person who I've heard predicting something like that. I guess we have to wait and see.
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2016  Professional Filmographer
I just don't see how they can effectively counter those nationalist movements without a dramatic shift in policy that probably needed to start 2 years ago.
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(1 Reply)
:iconeaglehooves:
eaglehooves Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2016
Not sure I have much to say or add, but it is interesting to hear the thoughts of someone who used to live in the UK on the matter.

Given that paragraph three of the long version section sounds a bit like Trump's rise if you substitute "Brussels" for "Washington" and references to Britain with the state you're currently in, the thought that things could get messy here just got a bit more real and a bit scarier.
Reply
:icontimsplosion:
timsplosion Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Professional Filmographer
It's a very similar cultural process that's underway. People feel abandoned by the existing system and are deserting the political middle ground and moving towards anyone they consider antiestablishment. We're distrustful of so called experts because their advice has failed to deliver the benefits to those lower down on the chain, so fact or evidence based decision making becomes harder to convince people of. So people flock to anyone who gives them a good scapegoat and is confident enough when speaking.
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