Britain is out and what are the implications? The divorce process from the EU will commence. More than 17 million people wanted to leave (53%) but over 16 million wanted to say (48%) - what this emphatically says is that Britain is politically divided. Will the Brexit decision only exacerbate the divide?.
The immediate result, the pound has taken a tumble and this has implications for people like me who travel extensively, I will get less for the pound when I am abroad and it will impact on future purchases and financial decisions. Will I need a visa when I travel to other European cities? What are the implications for UK citizens living in Europe where before freedom and ease of movement across EU countries was a given. The EU is Britain's biggest trading partner of 500 million people with free trade in place - new trade agreements have to be renegotiated which could be protracted and even messy taken longer than the 2 years cited. Other leading EU member states, Germany, France and Italy are shocked and disappointed, the mood in Brussels is palpably different. And now Scotland and Northern Ireland, who both voted to stay in, are discussing their future. How can they remain part of the UK when they want to stay in the EU? Will there be further referendums - the outcome of which could potentially precipitate the break up of the UK.
Trump glibly said, 'It's a great day' because Britain has taken their country back. Has it really? Or just put their power in the hands of a few Conservatives who are reverting to the isolationist stance of pre-war Britain. There is no going back.
Cameron has issued his resignation, and conducted himself with dignity; he looked visibly drained and exhausted after relentless campaigning to stay in. The highlight of his campaign for me was when he spoke out against the vile UKIP poster that outraged most British citizens. And now there is a question mark over Corbyn's leadership of the Labour party - will he be next to go?
London voted to stay in, although working class east London neighbourhoods of Havering, Barking and Dagenham, for example, overwhelmingly voted out - Britain is clearly split? These divisions have been brewing for decades post Thatcher where the north/south dichotomy has become increasingly unbridgeable with radical and devastating effect. London has always been an entity unto its own, sometimes disconnected from the rest of Britain. This has been an unprecedented opportunity for other regions of the country to express their voice and be heard.
Aside from the immediate impact of such a historical decision it does make us look at Britain as a whole entity again. The British people have cast their vote. Specific communities were clearly not happy being part of the EU. Immigration remained the key issue (which was often distorted). The UK is a country of limited capacity and, arguably, could not support the current influx of people facing consistent and untenable pressure on services. The Leave campaign spoke of controlled immigration where they could pick and choose the people the UK wanted. We have seen with the rise of right-wing organisations in the UK. Why is that? Perhaps an inflated reaction to the sense that the ordinary British white UK citizen was becoming a minority in their own country because of the rapidly changing demographics, something that has been embraced in London, but not necessarily in other parts of the country. Is Britain trying to assert its innate sense of Britishness? Whatever that is exactly.
The Brexit campaign used nationalist sentiment, and to an extent scaremongering tactics with the immigration question, and the red herring that was Turkey joining the EU (that's a long way off - more like the year 3000 Cameron said) to hammer their points across.
Half of the country is jubilant, the other half phlegmatic and bitterly disappointed. Grumblings will not dissipate - as a result of Brexit we could become more fractured. How do we make Britain cohesive with one vision again?
The ramifications of this decision are far reaching. Now there are other EU countries suggesting EU referendums of their own. Could Brexit instigate the break up of the EU? Certainly they will have to re-group and rethink. Negotiations with the EU were often fraught and heated. The UK still has to work with the EU, as does Norway (who is also not part of the club), and without a seat on the table surely it will make negotiations even tougher. Regarding trading it's in everyone's interests to continue to trade as before, but now the UK will be able to negotiate trade deals with other countries outside the EU like China and India where the markets are huge (but they are facing their own economic woes).
And what of the current immigrant populations residing in the UK? Before Brexit tensions were already rising due to the rise of Islamic extremism and the threat of domestic terrorism, which we have seen occurring in France, Belgium and the UK. Sections of the Muslim community felt alienated and excluded from British society and as a result - will Brexit serve to intensify community divisions at home?
Before Brexit the UK was part of something bigger, a sprawling European community, now suddenly the UK feels like an island looking inward, protectionist and hell bent on serving it's own self interests.
The implications of future degenerations will be far reaching. For example, If they want to live and work in EU member states they could encounter difficulties, which were not present pre-Brexit. They are already facing so many pressures as it is, now the list has increased immeasurably.
Being part of the EU there was one set of rules for everyone, now the UK has 'taken back control' and there will be a new set of rules, but these will be made by an even smaller group of people - a Conservative elite that enjoys safeguarding and serving the interests of a powerful elite that is big business. Should we be nervous? I would definitely say so.
But I want to end on a positive note, currently I have been shortlisted for the Rich Mix wallpaper commission (Rich Mix is a cultural arts hub in east London). My design features portraits of local people that I have worked with over the years and it reflects the diversity and inclusiveness of Britain - I hope Brexit doesn't change what makes Britain great.
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