“Another such victory and I come back to Epirus alone.”
– King Pyrrhus
Well, the moment that many across the world feared has arrived. On June 23rd, 2016, the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, 52% to 48%. As a result, stock markets worldwide are tumbling, the British pound sterling is at a 30-year low against the U.S. dollar, and the financial stability of the world is in question.
The only saving grace is that Parliament technically is not bound to the referendum. However, no matter how slim the final tally was, the majority of voters still did vote to leave the EU; it would be political suicide to not follow through with the will of the people. It is the will of the people that I question now, as well as the intentions of the “Brexiters” who pushed for this result.
The people who voted to leave the EU were overwhelmingly older, and located farther from cosmopolitan cities. All of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain; part of Wales, and most areas besides London in England, voted to leave. This unfortunately is more indicative of the xenophobic rhetoric proffered by the likes of Nigel Farage, an extreme conservative whose anti-immigration stance is all-to-reminiscent of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s. Furthermore, the voting split has the potential to lead to the dissolution of the United Kingdom, especially if Scotland does indeed vote in a second referendum to leave the UK and rejoin the EU.
This is why the Brexit is a Pyrrhic victory. In their quest for “independence”, Brexiters have disrupted the financial stability of a world with the Great Recession’s effects still lingering in peoples’ psyches, created a huge intergenerational split in England, and effectively showcased the dangers of mob mentality. To get what they wanted, the Conservative party leaders in Britain will now have to deal with the economic fallout of leaving the EU, especially if those in Brussels decide to punish Britain for breaking their ties. People in the UK who wanted to enjoy free travel between 27 countries will now have to rethink their ability to enjoy a cosmopolitan culture. Immigrants living in Great Britain will now have to rethink their livelihoods, and Brits living in other EU countries will be forced to do the same. This is a situation in which free trade is lost, political stability is lost, and the promise of a better future is lost.