Woke up to a different world today, after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. That’s history in the making, but unfortunately, considering what is currently known about how things will play out, in terrible and terrifying ways. However, it doesn’t have to be that way, not only in the sense that the damage may be mitigated to a certain extent but even that the changes may even perhaps be somewhat positive, if only things would be done differently.
Don’t expect much in this post about what did happen and what the next steps currently appear to be. The Internet is flooded with that kind of information at the moment, so look it up yourselves if you’re interested and don’t already know. Won’t even post any links except to say that The Guardian has been my primary source of international news for a while now, and they obviously have a section dedicated to the topic… Though a link to the detailed results is useful, since I’ll be mentioning certain areas next and this explains why.
To be perfectly clear, I think people who desire independence should be able to obtain it. However, that goes for people, who will obviously settle into certain areas, probably decided according to where most of them were living when such a decision was made, as long as those who disagree will easily be able to move and continue their lives elsewhere as well. It doesn’t mean that entire countries or regions should be pulled one way or another as a result of the desires of a majority, be it of representatives or voters, ignoring the will of those who disagree and forcing them to deal with the consequences to a similar or even greater extent.
When Scotland recently voted to remain in the United Kingdom, I was wondering where can all those who wish to live in an independent Scotland go. Now I’m wondering where can all those who wish to live in a European United Kingdom go. I mean, it’s clear and has already been announced that Scotland will organize another independence referendum within the two years following the triggering of article 50 by the United Kingdom, and that one will clearly result in a vote to leave the United Kingdom in order to remain in the European Union, so we will relatively soon have an independent Scotland hoping it won’t need to start the long process of joining the European Union after being dragged out of it by the rest of the United Kingdom. But what about the rest?
In case of Northern Ireland, which voted to remain, there’s also the fact that leaving the European Union will once again create a hard border between them and the Republic of Ireland and create complications which may threaten a still rather fragile peace, considering certain factions that exist. Not sure what they’ll do and the whole situation seems to put them between a rock and a hard place, so decisions will need to be made and they may seem, and probably be, wrong either way.
But things get even more complicated when we look at England, and also at the difference between Cardiff and most of the rest of Wales. Here you have a clear contrast between London and most of the surrounding area and a few other larger cities, Cardiff included, which voted to remain by large margins, and most of the rest of England and Wales, which voted to leave. And this is where I’ll definitely get to what I wrote in the first paragraph of this section and say that it’s not just that the United Kingdom should break up, but also that England and perhaps Wales should break up.
There should be a European England, which will remain in the European Union, made up of Greater London, perhaps with the exception of those eastern districts which clearly voted to leave, then extending along the yellow route on the map I linked to above, following that narrow path north to Cambridge, the wider one south to Brighton, east to Reading and Oxford, then find a way to Bristol, Bath and, again, probably even Cardiff, though this western area may explore other options as well, perhaps as part of a European Wales. In addition, Newcastle may want to take a good look at that future independent and European Scotland and decide whether they’d want to join them, finding a path to the border, and Liverpool and the surrounding coastline will also want to see what options may present themselves for them, and also for creating a path to Manchester and the surrounding area. The Isles of Scilly should likely weigh their options as well. York and Leeds and a few other areas will probably need to be lost, but at least the people living there who want to remain in the European Union will have places to go in this scenario.
And speaking of options, Gibraltar likely has quite a few and should definitely make use of them. They’re actually part of continental Europe, after all, and the strategic location offers them good bargaining chips.
What the European Union should do now is a bit harder to say, on the other hand. They definitely must do something, and quickly, which is very unlike how they usually work, but failure is not an option because certain factions in plenty of other member states have been waiting for this opportunity and will likely rush to take advantage of it, with disastrous consequences. The situation of Greece will also need to be handled with extreme care, because it’s been on the brink for years and the blame is shared more or less equally between the Greek authorities and people, the European Union and international institutions, so this may well be the huge pile of bricks that broke the already terribly overloaded camel’s back.
The European Union must find ways to be stronger and better together than apart. It must be more inclusive, welcoming, solidary and social. It must fight for the rights and freedoms and welfare of all its citizens and use its power and relative wealth to also aid the rest of the world. It definitely must be greener as well, and push for the rest of the world to follow suit. And of course it must also take a firmer stance against other powers and threats and show that it has both the will and the might to actually fight back and win. And yes, when I say threats I’m first of all naming Russia in particular, followed by the need to be far more and more directly involved in everything going on in Syria and also in the fight against ISIS (ISIL, IS, Daesh) and their allies.
But on top of actually doing these things, it must also prove that it does them, and that doing them does make it better. And it must prove this to those people who react emotionally, don’t think far into the future, don’t thoroughly explore the potential consequences and, as the profile of those who voted for the United Kingdom to leave now shows, don’t trust anybody. Many don’t even trust those they end up supporting, but those play on their fears and immediate concerns and offer them scapegoats and enemies to blame, small false battles they are led into believing they may win.
But I was saying these will only be some quick thoughts and this post stretched beyond that point already, so I’ll stop here for the moment. Had another part in mind, starting from the demographics of those who voted to leave, but that won’t be saying anything new and it doesn’t deal with the matter at hand specifically, as it’s about voting in general. I still clearly disagree with the idea that voting is a right that everyone except perhaps some convicted criminals enjoys equally instead of a privilege that must be earned by proving at least some minimal knowledge of the issue being voted on and its implications, plus basic things such as being able to read and write and having at least some minimal knowledge of a few other crucial matters as well, and the results and demographics of this vote only prove my point yet again.