It finally had to happen.
In what could very well be termed as one of the most significant moves of the new millennium, last Thursday the United Kingdom voted to move out of the European Union. Given the significant amount of clout Britain wields over the European and world economy, the importance of this move cannot be underestimated.
The world did not take it lightly either. As soon as the decision became public, stock markets across Europe and Asia started tumbling. The Euro and Pound currencies took a huge nosedive and fell to new lows. A pall of gloom descended among British youth and Europe in general. British PM David Cameron stated that he would resign the coming September citing personal responsibility.
But I believe it was an event waiting to happen. In fact, given Britain’s unique and chequered history, this move should have hardly come across as a surprise. Geographically isolated from continental Europe, the British have always viewed themselves as politically and culturally separate from the European Mainland. In that sense, the English Channel separates Britain from Europe in more ways than one. Apart from James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Jeeves, Bertie Wooster, Royal Enfield and Jaguar; the one thing which the British are famous for, the one unique trait which differentiates a Brit from the others is their die hard patriotism and pride in their national identity and their stubbornness to influence from outside culture. It is this pride and stubbornness which made them heroically resist Nazi Germany’s air attacks during world war two. While any other nation would have buckled under the constant barrage of the Luftwaffe, Britain heroically resisted and also responded in kind by bombarding German cities. It helped to turn the tide of the war in no small way. It was this same stubbornness which made Captain Scott persist with his ill-fated quest to find the South Pole despite the numerous odds which were stacked against him. The same stubbornness and British pride which made the captain of the Titanic stay on board knowing very well that the ship was on its’ way to Davy Jones’ locker. All that and the cognizance of the fact that their nation colonized nearly half the planet not more than a century ago has acted in no small way to fuel British pride and instilled a deep patriotic sense of identity among their people.
And this could perhaps the single most reason for Britain to pull out. On the surface, they (The British) do cite valid reasons for leaving the EU. The less than ideal financial condition of the EU(not helped by Greece and the Euro crisis of past years) and the potential economic and employment problems Britain faces from member East European immigrants are pressing concerns. But knowing the British, I would say the single most important factor for leaving the EU could be a deep rooted fear of losing their national identity, a fear of being typecast as ‘One of those developed European Nations’ instead of being known as ‘Great’ Britain, a fear of being relegated to a mere speck on the map of a bigger Europe rather than being known and respected for it’s own.
Whatever it may be, the British have spoken. A rocky path lies ahead, given that they will soon lose all the prized privileges of being a powerful member of the EU and the fact the founding members have not taken Britain’s decision very sportingly. The British will soon have to carve out their own path, not an easy task by any means. To compound matters, Scotland and Northern Ireland have made very clear their preference to remain in the EU. With such complications, the United Kingdom might not remain so ‘United’ in the near future.
But all is not lost yet. Critics and pro-pounders of doom for the British might have just underestimated her strength and determination. In fact, this could be just the tonic the sleeping British economy needs to rouse it from its’ slumber. There’s nothing quite like a hard challenge to perk you up. Spain and France have also given indications to quit the EU, a move which will further weaken union and exacerbate matters no less. And if other countries do follow suit, Europe will start looking like how it was back in the late nineteenth century, with each country vying for financial and economic superiority. Two devastating world wars were the direct consequence of a divided Europe back then. God knows what will happen now.
The full impact of ‘Brexit’ still remains to be calculated and only time will stand proof of the soundness of the move. But there’s no denying the fact that once again the British have created a Big Splash, the ripples of which are being felt the world over. Trust them to stay quiet! I say what ..old Boy!
Cheers to the British!