Will Brexit become just Exit?

If the British vote to leave the EU, instead of Brexit (British exit) it might boil down to just an Exit (English exit), with the other members of the United Kingdom deciding to stay in the EU after all, as independent states. This way, Europe will be one big country poorer but four small European countries richer.

With the dust settling on Britain after the dramatic elections, the question on everyone’s lips is “what about Brexit”? That is, will there be a referendum about the United Kingdom leaving the EU, and what will be the outcome? To be honest, I don’t really care whether the UK will be a member of the EU or not. I don’t think most Europeans care much either. I do feel the British public is not fully aware of the impact of such a decision and I think their politicians and media are doing a poor job informing the public. 

Now that Nigel Farage, (former) head of UKIP, has left the political scene, it seems the referendum issue will lose some momentum. But it is unlikely that David Cameron will dare back off his promise to hold one. And if he will back off, there are plenty of people who will remind him of his promise. However, without Farage, who was the main force in the pro-Brexit camp, there is an opportunity for the British to engage in a meaningful discussion on the aftermath of leaving the EU.

What is it really about? The Brits are concerned about immigrants taking their jobs and straining the social services. They say the EU is costing a lot and is providing little in return. What they forget is that without the EU they would have to take back millions of Britons who retired to Spain. How’s that for strain on healthcare? It’s not like it would not be possible to retire or get a job in EU, it just would be much more difficult. Jobs in the UK, too, would be at risk, as exports to EU will suffer. And London, that lives on its banking system, will perhaps not be cut off all together, but will be left out of much of European decision making, and banking across the channel will be pricier. I’m pretty sure people in Frankfurt and Zurich would be more than willing to fill the gap.

Not that leaving the EU will stop the illegal immigration. The illegals are not EU citizens anyway, so they come regardless the UK membership. Leaving the EU is not going to address immigration from Commonwealth countries like Nigeria and Pakistan. I also don’t see how the UK will remove the millions of Germans, French, Poles and Romanians who live in the country for years or even decades. And who will do the plumbing? Are German doctors, French bankers and Dutch engineers also to leave? Sure, some immigrants are not model citizens. But leaving the EU because of them is a bit drastic, isn’t it?

What about Scotland? Surely, if the Brexit referendum will decide for leaving the EU, Scotland will want to hold a new referendum about leaving the UK? Having narrowly lost the previous referendum, Scottish nationalists stand a good chance of winning the next one, especially if the choice is between the UK and the EU. Scottish independence might reignite the flames in Northern Ireland and maybe even Wales will decide to split. And so, instead of Brexit (British exit) it might boil down to just an Exit (English exit), with the other members of the United Kingdom deciding to stay in the EU after all, as independent states. This way, Europe will be one big country poorer and four small European countries richer.

These are mere possible scenarios. I’m not claiming knowing the future or even that these are likely scenarios. I do think it is absolutely necessary for the British public, politics and media to be able to discuss the possible consequences of Brexit, without the rhetoric, in a polite, responsible fashion. If the BritishU do decide to leave the EU, its their legitimate choice. It would be a shame if they leave for the wrong reasons and under false assumptions. Whatever happens, Britain will remain a European country. They can vote whatever which way they want, but they can’t ship the whole bloody island to Australia. They can’t, right?

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7 Comments

Filed under Europe, Work

7 responses to “Will Brexit become just Exit?

  1. Nice and thoughtfull commentary. Did you speak to any british people in person about it? How do they feel? What really bothers them?

    • Sure, I’ve spoken to my British colleagues. They are just happy 3 out of 4 party leaders are gone. Said the only downside is that someone would replace them.

  2. I have to say as a Brit and soon-to-be-expat Brit, it’s very interesting reading this from the European’s side. I will be following all discussions and debates with interest because as you so rightly say, we are not well informed. I feel many of us will try and get better informed now – knowing that the referendum is very likely going to happen. Sadly I fear that “getting informed” for many will mean reading the biased press so who knows what people will actually believe when they go to vote! I for one don’t want to leave the EU, although I also know that there are arguments in favour both ways. I suspect Cameron will have a job on his hands now trying to get his proposals for change through the EU if he is to pursuade people to vote to stay (which I believe is actually what he wants). And yes there are so many considerations – what will happen to the many, many expat Brits living in Europe? And vice versa? And just WHO will be doing the plumbing!

    • I share the concerns about some of the EU’s downsides, and there’s a lot that can be changed in the way the EU is run. But I doubt Brexit is the optimal route to achieve the goals pro-Brexit people aim for. That is, I think the view that simply leaving the EU will disconnect Britain from mainland Europe once and for all is rather naive.

  3. Great overview of the situation. Too many people think the EU is responsible for them not being able to get jobs which is totally idiotic and there are simply are NO statistics to back that up. Scapegoating. That’s all it is. Immigrants are easy targets as the government can prey on people’s sense of patriotism…somehow.

  4. I agree with all of this and the comments. My instinct is that we’ll vote to stay in – I certainly will – although the result may be close. If we vote to come out then I think it’s more or less inevitable – if it isn’t already – that Scotland will cede from the UK.

    • Thank you for appreciating my opinion. I suspect though that the people reading this and commenting are not the group that would vote for leaving the EU anyway.

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