Britain has voted to leave the European Union and the question on everyone’s mind has shifted from “what if” to “what now”. Immediately, nothing much will change. Prominent Brexiteer Boris Johnson has already called for calm and most political commentators agree that it could be some time before we see the effects of this vote materialise. But aside from the legislative details, there is something far more sinister afoot.
The UK’s decision to leave the EU means next to sod-all until we can figure out how to deliver on the “will of the nation”. There is even reason to believe that in the long-term it won’t be possible to action the promises of Brexit. Donald Tusk has indicated that any trade agreements with Europe will be dependent on the free movement of people and Nigel Farage has already made a tit of himself on day time television by distancing himself from promises of reallocating EU spend to the NHS.
So don’t panic, everything is going to be fine. Sure the stock market has crashed and the pound has slumped to a 30-year low, and the UK economy has shrunk enough in one morning to slip below France, but it’ll rebound. We’ve experienced worse economic upheavals, right?
Wrong, but to my point. The really worrying aspect of the referendum result is that it has legitimised a right-wing underbelly in Europe that has been simmering for some time. In France, Front National leader and outright bigot Marine Le Pen has celebrated the result, the Dutch far-right and anti-immigration leader Geert Wilders has called for a referendum on the Netherlands’ membership of the European Union and Beatrix von Storch, an MEP for right-wing populist party Alternative für Deutschland, who was recently expelled from the Tories’ party group in the European Parliament over her “shooting refugees” comments, welcomed the result.
People think peace in Europe is a given, but thousands of years of historical precedent suggests otherwise. Sure this a democracy, and sure the Leave campaign won by democratic means. But people democratically voted in the Nazis. Take a moment to think about that.