At this stage, the surprisingly successful Brexit vote that set the wheels in motion for the United Kingdom’s eventual exit from the European Union feels like an unequivocal failure. World markets have been dented, the value of the pound has dropped 12 percent against the dollar, and both Fitch and S&P have downgraded the U.K.’s credit rating. On the political side, pro-Remain U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is now a lame duck after resigning, Scotland and Northern Ireland are talking about their own independence, and promises about funding the NHS and immigration reform are coming undone as they come under scrutiny. The same promises that surely nudged many Leave voters toward that end in the first place.
In the afterglow of Thursday’s referendum, regret has taken hold. Some say they didn’t realize their vote had counted while others simply didn’t realize the gravity of the question that they were voting on, as evidenced by the forehead-smacking news that search terms like, “What is the EU?” saw an increase in the U.K. after results had been announced.
Due to that lax understanding of that which was before them and the utterly frightening consequences that have been brought about by their actions, it’s understandable why the Bregret movement has kicked up some dust with a three-million-signature strong petition for a re-vote. People are hopeful that that effort or something else will stop the avalanche before whomever emerges as the next prime minister triggers Article 50 and the beginning of lengthy and possibly contentious exit negotiations with the EU. But while there are numerous theoretical “outs,” all seem unlikely. So, basically, strap in.
While the initial cost has been high, the consequences will continue to mount for quite some time. There are already reports of a possible increase in racially motivated crimes in the U.K. What happens when reality sinks in, fear-baiting campaign promises further wither to dust, and fervent anti-immigration Leave voters realize that no one is likely going anywhere because (despite lead Leave movement leader Boris Johnson’s claims) the U.K. will likely have to abide by the EU’s open migration standards (and other policies) to remain in the single market? Anger breeds violence and these small-minded people were already pissed off enough to plunge their country (and the world economy) into low-level chaos.
Speaking of that, what happens when these deep financial losses trickle down to non-investors in the form of stagnant wage growth and possible job losses? What happens if the situation in Scotland and Northern Ireland moves to a less than civil place? We’re not so far from violence in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles” that we should forget the toll. Again, strap in.