Brexit: Britain’s historic split from European Union

By Don Rajael, CCNN Writer

EU
The EU, before the UK’s departure.

Britain has left the European Union (EU), ending its 43-year-old membership and splitting away from the 27 other countries still belonging to it, following a historic 52% to 48% vote by its citizens in favor of leaving. In the wake of Brexit (a combination of the words “Britain” and “exit”), British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned and will be replaced by Theresa May. See, Cameron wanted Britain to remain part of the EU and thought he could calm down all the pro-independence folks by offering everyone a chance to vote on it once and for all, in a move called a “referendum.” It backfired, of course, leading him to quit.

So, what does this all mean for Britain, the EU, and the greater international community? Well, the EU is an umbrella organization connecting major European nations politically and economically, tracing its origins to the European Economic Community (EEC) that formed in 1958. Over the past few decades, it has transformed into a big network of countries that basically agree to follow certain rules in order to enjoy the benefits of belonging to the EU “club.” Many EU members use a form of money called the “euro,” and while countries still get to keep their own individual identities and laws, their fortunes are tied closely together.

Some of the pressures that caused Britain to leave the EU include the economic drain of Greece’s financial collapse, which affected its neighbors, and the security issues of massive immigration from the Syrian refugee crisis.

The United Kingdom, or UK (commonly called Britain) is actually made up of England in the southeast, Scotland in the north, Northern Ireland to the west, and Wales to the southwest. It took centuries of combat and conquest for the British monarchy, called the “Crown”, to combine the states together under one government and national identity. Scotland has often tried voting on its independence from the UK (unsuccessfully, so far), and with its close EU ties, it may try again to split away from the rest of Britain to keep the “club” benefits of being in the EU.

Brexit has also inspired other countries with strong “nationalist” feelings to consider leaving the EU. See, nationalism is a fierce belief in the independence of one’s country from outside influences, which critics believe reduces a nation’s wealth and power by limiting its political and economic ties with other folks. Supporters of nationalism, however, believe that such a mindset protects their country from getting taken advantage of by outside forces. Some political experts consider the USA’s Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to be a nationalist, since he has called for more border security, tougher trading deals with other countries and praised the Brexit as a great victory for Britain.

The uncertainty caused by Brexit has upset the global economy, dropping the value of the British pound and affecting people who had their own money invested in British deals. Other countries with rising nationalist parties may also consider making their own exit from the EU, especially places like France, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Finland and even EU heavyweight Germany, which has suffered massive immigration problems.

Featured image courtesy of Rlevente on Wikimedia.