British vote for Brexit
For the first time in history a country has voted to leave the EU. Just under 51.9 percent of British voters cast their ballots in favour of Brexit, while 48.1 percent voted to remain. Prime Minister Cameron has announced his resignation. Is this just a warning for the Union to get its act together or the beginning of the end?
End of the UK?
The Scots and Northern Irish, a majority of whom voted against Brexit, may now want to split from the predominantly anti-EU English, the Financial Times fears:
“The nations of the United Kingdom divided; and England split between its metropolitan cities and post-industrial provinces. … A vote against the EU could well turn out also to be a vote against the United Kingdom. The Brexiters were English nationalists. Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted to remain. So did London, the pre-eminent global city. So the leaving of one union may be the death of another. Who could blame the Scots for preferring Europe over an England turned in on itself? How long before the English tire of picking up the bill for Northern Ireland?”
A mirror held up to Europe
The EU will have a hard time recovering from this shock, Il Sole 24 Ore predicts:
“The EU has been 'Brexitising' for some time now - overcome by the wave of anger, frustration and disappointment from its citizens. In this sense the real Brexit is like a mirror that mercilessly reflects the bad conscience of Europe - a union that has been at odds with itself for years. The negotiations with London will be tough and complicated, and this time - unlike in the past - there will be little willingness to compromise because the priority will be to deter others from following suit. To make matters worse general elections will be held in the Netherlands, France and Germany next year. The first two have been under unbearable pressure from nationalism and Euroscepticism for years, while the third is suffering from an anti-migration and anti-euro syndrome.”
Cameron took a gamble and lost
Cameron's referendum was a bad idea from the start, Helsingin Sanomat rails:
“The shocking results on Friday morning show that the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron took a decision that was fatally wrong from the start. To strengthen his position and that of his party, Cameron promised the British a referendum. He knew how widespread Euroscepticism was in Britain, and he knew that such plebiscites are not always decided by the issue at hand. Nevertheless he took the risk and promised the referendum. Now it's time to bear the consequences. ... The stakes were high, and Cameron has lost - as have Britain and the entire Europe Union.”
Which exit comes next?
The chain reaction has begun, Berlingske fears:
“'Today we discuss a Grexit, tomorrow comes the Brexit and the next day it will be the Frexit' the leader of Front National Marine Le Pen said a year ago. And in the Netherlands too, where a clear majority voted against an EU trade agreement with Ukraine in an April referendum, a referendum on the EU could be on the agenda if EU critic Geert Wilders comes to power next year. … There is talk of a Nexit. And a Danish exit - a Dexit - is already being mentioned in connection with the Frexit and the Nexit on social media. And last but not least, EU enemy number one Nigel Farage predicted that a Brexit would be followed by a Dexit and a Nexit and then the complete collapse of the EU. … The word playing is likely to continue.”
Will the EU break up like the Soviet Union did?
If any more cracks open up in the EU peace will be at stake, the socialist daily Duma comments:
“The British are disgusted with the EU and its leadership. Juncker's behaviour towards the British - and others - has been repulsive and arrogant. The EU is a symbol of thick-skinned bureaucracy, absurd quotas and unrealistic regulations. In such an unhealthy environment it's no wonder nationalism is thriving and many European countries want to abandon the sinking ship. Nonetheless, we saw in the 1990s what happens when a union collapses: the Armenians, Georgians and other ex-Soviet republics were at each other's throats. Could it be that similar conflicts break out in the EU? … Absolutely! Brexit or even the collapse of the EU won't trigger war, but the risk of conflicts breaking out will increase considerably.”
Russia exploiting wave of Euroscepticism
Brexit will weaken Europe and strengthen Russia, Pravda concludes summing up the growing concern of Central and Eastern Europeans:
“Moscow is delighted at the prospect of the EU sanctions soon coming to an end. And the second important aspect is that this opens up the possibility of renewing its 'natural' sphere of influence in Central and Eastern Europe. This will be facilitated by the fact that the wave of optimism over Europe has ebbed and various populists and fascists are taking centre stage. Naturally the average citizen in Sheffield is far more worried about the fate of the city's steelworks or migration than whether the countries of Central and Eastern Europe will once again become Russian satellite states. And those questions are what guided their vote in the referendum. The problem is that London and Sheffield also made a decision that affects Tallinn and Riga.”
Brits are leaving us in the lurch
Journalist Calin Nicolescu expresses deep disappointment at the selfishness of the British on his blog with Adevărul:
“The Brexit rhetoric mercilessly targeted the poor of Eastern Europe (not just the Romanians), who supposedly come to take advantage of the British welfare system. No one spoke about the Eastern Europeans who have contributed to Britain's economic growth - and also to a positive development of the welfare budget. The British think they'll continue to attract qualified immigrants who are willing to enslave themselves to the British economy - the rest can stew in their own juice. They have the nerve to say: let's share a coffee: we get the cream, you get the dregs. ... The subliminal message of the referendum is that the Brits only want to be friends for as long as it suits them. When the going gets tough, they give you the brush-off.”
Throwing off the shackles
With their vote the British have shown the whole world that they don't want to be ruled by others any longer, columnist Tim Stanley stresses in The Daily Telegraph:
“Out came the Treasury, the IMF, even the President of the United States to argue that Britain had to stay. … No. People wanted to have their say and they did. Up and down the country they defied the experts and went with their conscience. Labour voters most of all: the northeast rebelled against a century of Labour leadership. … It’s possible that voters grasped the essential point about this referendum better than we the commentators did. It was a vote of confidence in Britain. Should we run our affairs or should we delegate it to foreign bureaucrats?”
Bye-bye, German Europe
The British have made a bold decision, To Vima comments approvingly:
“Britain is leaving German Europe and the British citizens have regained control of their country. … The end of this hegemony began early this morning. This won't be an easy path. But while freedom has never been easy it is and remains the foundation of the Western world, its achievements and its culture. Without that freedom the prototype for a democratic and liberal world would no longer exist. God saved the Queen, or to be precise: the British have shown yet again that they won't let themselves be blackmailed - something that others who want it all for themselves in 21st-century Europe should respect.”
A kick in the rear for Brussels bigwigs
It's clear who's to blame for the Brexit outcome, the tabloid Super Express believes:
“People like Jean-Claude Juncker, Martin Schulz and Guy Verhofstadt deserve a real kick in the rear end, because their policies, their drivel and their disdain for citizens who don't share their idea of the EU have brought the Union to the brink of collapse. Those in favour of Leave and all those who tacitly - or openly - sympathise with them on the continent have simply had enough of the arrogant and boorish way the Europeans have treated them. This has become a sort of trademark of the bigwigs in Brussels. If there is one thing above all others the British reject it's the Union these men represent.”