When Ray Caraher was 11, Britain joined the European Union. Now, 40 years later, he’s glad to see its exit from the EU.
“I’m really happy we’re out of it,” said Caraher, who now lives in Kansas City and runs an expatriate group called Brits International. “We can retain our individualism now.”
Toby Corder, owner of White Horse Pub in Kansas City, agreed. In the long run, he thinks leaving the EU will be a good thing for the United Kingdom.
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“I want England to be a self-governing, respected state, without bureaucrats in Brussels calling the shots,” he said. “It was getting to be where Brussels could make more and more decisions for British citizens, and I want England to re-establish itself as a sovereign state.”
Caraher and Corder had lived in the U.S. too long to vote in the referendum, but Daniel Levitt, a graduate student at the University of Missouri, returned to England a month ago to cast his vote. He wanted Britain to remain a member of the EU.
“I believe in unity and togetherness and I’m not scared of immigration,” said Levitt, who is currently interning in New York.
Levitt didn’t expect the “leave” camp to win.
“I’m still trying to get my head around it,” he said. “Everyone was in complete shock.”
For now, the economic and political instability doesn’t directly affect Levitt. He has a tuition waiver for school and may wait to exchange his savings for dollars until the exchange rate stabilizes.
In general, as the value of the pound falls against the dollar, it makes travel in Britain and imports from there cheaper.
It’s too soon to predict the long-term effects on Britain or on the markets, but one of the most immediate effects may be on how Americans and Brits travel.
When the BBC called the vote, the pound plummeted to its lowest level against the dollar in decades, which may help Americans who had already been planning on traveling to book cheaper trips.
“The person who may consider traveling now is the person who already has a passport, who might be thinking about it anyway, who has friends to stay with already,” said Jeff Bollig, director of marketing and PR at Acendas Travel in Mission.
Caraher, who travels to England to sell musical instruments, said the changing exchange rate may help his profits. But beyond the immediate effects on the market, the future is murkier.
“Once border controls are put in place, it’ll become harder to move between countries,” said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.
The referendum has allowed Americans already traveling in the United Kingdom to get a glimpse of a historic change while stretching their travel money further.
“We all realized that we’re here on a very historic day,” said Lisa Ball, who owns Lisa Ball Travel Design, a Mission travel agency. “We’re feeling the overall somberness of Glasgow.”
Ball helped coordinate a literary tour of Scotland for Vivien Jennings, the owner of Rainy Day Books in Fairway. They’re visiting sites known for Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Harry Potter and are meeting with modern Scottish authors along the way. The vote hasn’t changed their travel plans, but the shifting exchange rate should let them stretch their dollars further.
“We can buy more gifts for friends and family,” said Jennings. “We can maybe go to a little nicer restaurant for dinner. It makes it more affordable.”
Ball said she hopes all foreigners will continue to feel welcome in the United Kingdom, and she has no plans to stop traveling there if more borders are in place.
“I’ve always loved British, Scottish, Welsh trips,” said Ball, “and I’ll continue to go on them as long as people will go with me.”