In the history of Europe few things have been as transparently good as the day the Berlin Wall came down: freedom — personal, cultural and economic — was to be had and a bright new world was created… a world in which walls came down.
“Brexit” is the opposite of that… Walls are going back up. Whatever hope one might have had after the fall of the Berlin Wall is now on life-support.
In a campaign that was breathlessly naive (“everything will be fine once we leave, don’t worry about it”, “the British people are tired of hearing from experts”) and egregiously mendacious (“money for NHS”, “Scary immigrants”, “nobody will regulate your pillows!”) the “Leave” campaign, spanning the entire spectrum from passive-agressively racist to nakedly racist, convinced the English people (not the Scots or the Northern Irish, mind you) to walk blindly into a caustic uncertainty, thereby signing the UK’s suicide note with a flourish.
This is likely the end of the United Kingdom. Scotland will exit and will flourish for it. In a decade they will have a larger economy than England. Englands military will suffer, as integrated into Scotland as they are… Irish reaction is yet to be gauged but if I were a betting man, I’d say the tipping point of Northern Ireland wanting full integration with the Republic of Ireland has been reached and breached. And if they don’t, what are they going to do, put armed Irish guards to the south looking across a border at armed Northern Ireland guards??? Are Northern Irishman again going to stand off against other Irishman, and again on behalf of the British? That always ended well in the past, dinnit?
The English people have traded their security, their status and their stature for a blind alleyway that will leave them smaller and more isolated then they have ever been. That they believe a pot of gold is hidden in that blind alleyway doesn’t excuse them from the coming pain, and the worst pain when they realize that there never was no pot of gold. I predict about two decades of shrinking ego before they re-apply for entry in the EU… if the EU is still around.
Although I believe the worst of it will be visited upon the English, the chaos attending disintegration of the UK will not be confined to the British Isles. Over the next few years the European Union will face another wave of exit attempts… Greece almost certainly… and France will try, and maybe even some others, but as the scope of the disaster in England slowly unfolds the taste for exit will, one hopes, gradually turn to ash on the tongue… that is to say, unless and until the resulting chaos enables some demagogue or another to stir up national hatreds. At that point, all bets are off. A de-stabilized EU is a scary thing.
Enter Vladimir Putin and his fever dreams of a Russia re-emergent. We might as well either consign the Ukraine to him right now or mobilize NATO. Help from the EU, and the hope of maybe someday even EU membership, was the thinnest threads of Ukraine’s hope against Russia and was Putins biggest fear. In the resulting chaos of the next decade or so… Goodby to all that. And if the Ukraine falls, well… Poland is going to have to do something about that. Will it militarize? Will it call on NATO? What about all the states that were once part of the former Soviet Bloc? You have no idea. You think the Tsarnaev brothers and their once-remove Chechen nationalism-cum-Islam was dangerous? Childs play. The further along Putin gets the more some Croat or Serb or Slovak vows never to serve a Soviet master again… and prepares for war. These are countries that are now NATO members… and there’s a reason for that. A de-stabilized EU only emboldens Putin.
Will all this come to pass? I don’t really know. I hope not. But I do know that this is an epic, world changing event, on the order of the Berlin Wall coming down, but in the other direction. That it was based on lies and transparent stupidity is the scariest thing of it all…