The United Kingdom is going to vote to leave or stay in the European Union on June 23. It is not merely a British matter.
The referendum might have a huge effect on the economies of the United States and the entire world — if the Brexit (Britain exit plan) occurs.
We hope that doesn’t happen. A stronger united Europe is good for America and the world.
Check these assumptions if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
▪ It would be the start of the collapse of the union.
When it began about 10 years after World War II, the EU was a peace-making project for the continent. But in recent years some big problems — including the refugee crisis, debt troubles and rising nationalism — have tested the strength of the EU.
If the U.K.’s exit plan occurs, other countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece also would discuss leaving the EU.
▪ Others could follow the United Kingdom, creating immediate issues for Americans.
For example, visa procedures and security policies would be changed for ordinary tourists, and there would not be an exception for Americans.
▪ The United States would lose influence on business, political and military issues on the continent.
Britain is still America’s primary trans-Atlantic military ally. Both countries have special relationships on these matters, and Britain’s role in Europe is strategically important to the U.S.
▪ It might trigger a global economic tsunami.
It could hurt the euro and pound further, pushing the dollar higher. It would weaken the markets for U.S. exports, which could lead to higher unemployment in America.
▪ It would be a victory for isolationist politics.
By adopting the Brexit, supporters hope to build a political “wall” that promises border controls, protectionist trade policies and more jobs for Britons — not outsider Europeans.
That would be straight out of the playbook of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. It also would support the work of the nationalistic movement that exists in too many parts of Europe, especially in France and Italy.
President Barack Obama properly has pushed for a strong Europe and against the Brexit. On his April trip to the United Kingdom, Obama fairly said that the decision by Britons was of a deep interest to America.
If the U.K. votes for the Brexit, it would have to go to the “back of the queue” for a trade deal with the United States.
Both sides are waging tough fights to win the June 23 referendum.
The ruling Conservative Party has split over the coming election. Prime Minister David Cameron supports remaining with the EU.
“Leaving the EU would threaten our economic and national security,” he said. Cameron contended that, if the U.K. leaves the EU, there would be an economic shock for Britons. He said, “It means jobs being lost, mortgage rates might rise, hardworking people might loose their livelihoods.”
In addition, Cameron contends that the Islamic State and Russian President Vladimir Putin would be happy with a pro-Brexit vote.
The leader of the Brexit campaign is former London Mayor Boris Johnson. Cameron and Johnson have been clashing for many days. Johnson recently said the EU has the same aim that Germany’s Adolf Hitler did — trying to create a political superstate in Europe.
What a ridiculous comparison.
Brexit proponents concede that leaving the EU would cause a “dislocation and uncertainty” in the short term. But Johnson said that would be “followed by rapid improvement.”
As every isolationist does, Johnson is appealing to nationalism.
He believes the referendum is a “once in a lifetime opportunity” and a chance to “take back control” in the U.K. He wants to give back “Britons’ jobs to Britons.”
He wants to change the immigration system and let fewer into the country. But the downside of that approach is it would keep out some hard-working immigrants who can improve the country.
Polls show half of United Kingdom voters support the Brexit, so this potentially disruptive plan might succeed. But keep in mind that in the 2015 election, Cameron had a surprise victory not predicted by the polls.
The future of Europe and the stability of the global economy depend on this referendum. Those are good reasons to hope the Brexit fails next month.