The United Kingdom’s chaotic decision to leave the European Union so far is looking like a huge step toward making the kingdom weaker, not greater.
In America, the shock waves hit the markets, at least temporarily slashing billions of dollars from stock portfolios. But Brexit is also important for the United States because of our trade with European countries, currency exchange rates, and political and military alliances.
Americans should keep an eye on all of these issues in the months ahead. Before the referendum, President Barack Obama said that the United Kingdom would be at the back of the queue for trade deals with the United States if it left the EU. Now, no matter who’s elected as the next president, relations with Britain and all of Europe will be far different.
One of the Brexit leaders’ favorite slogans was “Take back control” of the United Kingdom. But it seems as if things are totally out of control now.
▪ Scotland is preparing to hold another independence referendum to leave the kingdom.
▪ Northern Ireland is discussing a reunion with Ireland — an EU member — after the Irish political party Sinn Fein called for a referendum to allow that to happen.
▪ People who did not like the decision have started an online petition to hold another referendum; the effort reached 3.5 million signatures on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Brexit leaders started to break their campaign promises almost immediately after the polls closed.
They had said they would give the country’s National Health Service the 350 million pounds that the European Union gets every week from the United Kingdom. But Nigel Farage, a big Brexit champion, said after the referendum that this had been one of the mistakes the campaign had made. Now he tells us.
Brexit leaders also had said there would be no turmoil if voters decided to leave the EU and the economy would be fine. But the pound has plunged to a 31-year low against the dollar, and stock markets around the world have plunged.
One of the worst consequences is that British police figures suggest there has been a 57 percent increase in reported hate crimes after the end of the referendum campaign, which featured harsh attitudes toward immigrants.
A great deal of uncertainty and confusion exists less than a week after the referendum. In the long term, the reality of Brexit is promising more difficulties for the United Kingdom, Europe and the rest of the world.