Why Brexit Should Scare The Shit Out Of You, Explained » VSB

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Why Brexit Should Scare The Shit Out Of You, Explained

What is Brexit?

Brexit is the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. “Brexit” is a catchy portmanteau of “Britain” and “exit.”

They withdrew from the European Union? How?

There was a vote. And the Leave forces defeated Remain 52 percent to 48 percent.

How did this vote even happen? What was the impetus for this?

There are myriad ways to answer this question. But for a succinct summary, I’ll lean on a piece from Vox’s Timothy B. Lee:

British Prime Minister David Cameron didn’t want to hold a vote on Brexit at all. But in 2014, he faced growing pressure from the populist right over immigration and Britain’s EU membership. To mollify dissenters in his own party and stop the rise of the far-right UK Independence Party, Cameron promised to hold a referendum on leaving the EU if his Conservative Party won the 2015 election.

The Conservatives surprised pollsters by winning an outright majority in Parliament, and Cameron kept his promise. But he wasn’t personally in favor of exiting the EU, and he campaigned vigorously for a “Remain” vote. At the same time, he allowed other members of his government to campaign on the other side. This created the spectacle of senior members of the UK government, from the same party, campaigning on opposite sides of one of the biggest issues in British politics in decades.

I see. So, why is everyone freaking out about this?

The immediate concern is the effect this will have on Britain’s economy. Trade agreements will need to be renegotiated, their currency will lose value, and it’s very likely that this move will not win them many friends in Europe, as the rest of the countries currently in the EU will also take a financial hit. It’s also important to consider Europe’s geographic dynamic. The countries there are generally clustered together the same way our states are. This isn’t like Canada and Mexico getting pissed at America. But New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Ohio all holding a grudge towards Pennsylvania.

So basically, Britain mortgaged their economy and potentially sabotaged relationships with other European countries just to exit the EU? Why would they do this? I thought Brits were smarter than us? Or is it just their accents that make them seem smarter?

Racism.

Really, that’s it?

It’s a little more complicated and nuanced than just that. But, if you distilled the complications and nuances down, you’d be left with a big ole bucket of bias. The same type of jingoism and nationalism that has propelled Donald Trump to the head of the Republican party is behind the decision to exit. Ultimately, this was done so Britain can create and enforce its own immigration policies. Which would effectively stem the immigration surge they’ve been experiencing, and make it more difficult for undesirable Eastern Europeans and Muslims to move there.

Eastern Europeans?

Yes. You know how Trump refers to Mexicans as job-stealing, filth-spreading, cow rapists? Well, it seems as if the Leave faction holds Eastern Europeans — many of whom come from poorer countries — in the same regard.

I see. So, why should this scare the shit out of Americans?

Because if there could be a single figurehead of this entire movement, it would be Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) — a right-wing party that was initially ignored as fringe until emerging as a powerful political force in the past several years. They became more and more popular by obsessing with and exaggerating the danger of immigration and connecting to a fear many Britons had/have about “losing” their country. Which sounds eerily similar to what’s currently happening here with Trump.

And while many of us (myself included) still believe America wouldn’t be myopic, frightened, and just plain stupid enough to elect this motherfucker president, as Britain showed us all, it can happen. And it will happen if we allow apathy or a belief that this would never happen keep us away from the polls.

Anything else to consider?

Just the irony that a country that colonized half of the freakin world is losing its shit about immigrants.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Brandon Allen

    I think we’ll be good here in the states simply because there would never be a national vote of something of that magnitude.

    Now, if Trump wins (which he wont, barring Hillary getting locked up) and issues a national vote on building a wall we can start being shook.

    • You’re right. We would skip right to civil war before we held a vote of that magnitude.

    • Mortal Man

      The United States would never cede with even a shred of its sovereignty. The benefits of being the world’s sole military superpower.

      • Brandon Allen

        I mean of the US wouldn’t but I couldn’t imagine ANY big decision being made like that over here. National referendums are not a thing. Supreme Court decisions and maybe that thing called Congress will always call the shots.

    • KNeale

      you’re belief that trump will never happen is just as strong as many liberal leaning UKers belief that they wouldn’t leave EU. and it won the vote. don’t feel secure. like Champ said: be afraid.

      • Brandon Allen

        Here’s why I’m not scared.

        1. The US is no where near as fractured as the UK. Scotland is already trying to leave again as we speak. Northern Ireland is trying to join Ireland. London is trying to be a city state. There aren’t that many competing agents in the US.

        2. In order for Donald Trump to win the presidency he’d literally have to win ALL white people which isn’t going to happen. Mitt couldn’t do it. McCain couldn’t.

        3. Even if Trump won he couldn’t make sweeping decisions on that scale and I honestly don’t think he would. If we can like through Bush we could handle Trump.

        • DiaShoni

          I think you may be underestimating a couple things: the number of Trump supporters who are PoC, and the number of people who adamantly refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton.

          • Kylroy

            If the number of non-white Trump supporters amount to more than a rounding error, count me stunned.

          • Brandon Allen

            I’m aware of those things. I think people over estimate the amount of POC Trump supporters. There’s always republican support from POC. I don’t think there’s necessarily more.

            People hate Hillary, but, I think the fear of Trump is stronger than the reality.

        • Kylroy

          And speaking of 3: Bush had the wholehearted support of his party and minimal resistance from the other for 3/4 of his presidency. Trump would have the support of virtually nobody in Washington.

      • Mochasister

        I thought he was a joke when he first got started. How could anyone take thi fool and his toupee seriously? But many (white) people do. To be honest I really think all of the support for Trump is in reaction to having a Black/biracial man in office. I think seeing his nonwhite face in office for two terms has done something to the psyche of many whites in this country. People would look like the Potus and the Flotus are NOT supposed to be over them. Supporting Trump is their way of making things “right” in the world.

  • Joi

    That last sentence is everything!!

    • BK37

      The irony is amazing, ain’t it?

  • Every time I think that we, as humans, have evolved a little bit, the world goes “or nah.”

  • Ess Tee

    There’s a viral tweet about that last sentiment:

    • kingpinenut

      let the choir sang!

      • CFandHappy

        *sing

        • NonyaB

          Yes, of course you’d pedantically correct his spelling, vs considering that @kingpinenut:disqus ‘s perfectly aware of conventional grammar rules but chose to deliver a comment with tenor (lingo, tone, inside jokes, etc) known to the VSB community that a fly-by visitor like you would be oblivious to.

          • CFandHappy

            Cool story, thanks for stopping by.

          • CFandHappy

            Cool story hunny. Thanks for stopping by…

            • NonyaB

              You’re cute; first time on the site and already trolling it up around regulars. Carry on!

              • CFandHappy

                No sweetie, I’m giving my opinion. Like the rest of you are. It’s just that some people are not worth getting into deep discussion with. Funny how the minute someone doesn’t agree with the majority, that word “troll” comes out. *yawn

    • FromTokyo

      Beautiful in its truth.

  • Wild Cougar

    Something about chickens coming home to roost. I cannot be afraid. I welcome the pendulum swing. Let it swing all the way with so much force it smashes through the wall.

    • Mizwest

      My sentiments also

      • Other_guy13

        Y’all just want to watch the world burn I see.

        • Wild Cougar

          That’s not really it. It’s more about knowing that the party that has had all the power for a long time is soft and sick. It’s about knowing that their oppression of others has had the unintended consequence of making the oppressed stronger and more healthy. When we start to show up big, strong and outsmart them, their sense of entitlement will cause them to destroy themselves in a loud, irrational rage fest. I know once they start angrily lashing out in ways that are self destructive, the end of their reign is very near.

          • Mortal Man

            Nobody holds on to power forever.

            But it’s not wise to think of chickens coming home to roost. The fire will come for us all.

            • Wild Cougar

              Oh, but the oppressors will get what’s coming to them and I will dance because their oppression has made my legs strong enough to thrive under the weight of the ruins. I will rejoice.

              • Mortal Man

                Until someone cuts your legs out. There will be no dances in the ruins of nations.

                In times of rising fascism and right wing activity, black folk have never fared well; the historical guilt of this nation forces white folk to view us as demons when monstrous times rise.

              • Your imagery nearly made me fall out… and then I thought about what our ancestors have gone through… you right!!

  • Okitech623

    This is basically Britain saying Tag America you’re it. You got 4 months to decide to follow us into the abyss or come to your senses and put a stop to this Trump nonsense (or at least keep it on the fringes where it belongs).

    I liked this Vox piece translating #Brexit into American terms. Seems pretty plausible with the way things are going actually: http://www.vox.com/2016/6/24/12023670/brexit-results-referendum-america?utm_campaign=vox&utm_content=chorus&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

  • Tee

    There was talk of this happening when I lived in Belgium a few years ago. Never thought I’d see the day where it would actually come to fruition. Scary to say the least.

    • Kylroy

      Belgium has the concern that they’re too small a country to meaningfully influence EU policy. The UK definitely had a seat at the table, and that they’ve decided to use it to flip said table is particularly scary.

  • my girl still lives there :(

    hopefully she immigrates back to Germany

  • Mr. Quojo .

    Actually I’m happy, this will give “Merica” a preview of what a Trump presidency will look like. If you think there is no Jobs now, just wait till the socio-econmic support structure collapses, meaing the low income working class This article should re-named: Why BREXIT is a Preview of What a Trump Presidency will look like.

    Happy Friday!

    • Mr. Quojo .

      Dancing Donald

    • cakes_and_pies

      The “cut off our nose to spite our face” Americans? if “they” can’t have it, no one can. This is a nation known for voting against its self-interest on the local, state, and federal level.

      • BK37

        You nailed it. No matter how fucktarded a candidate’s policies are, all they have to do is focus on the 4 G’s: Guns, God, Gays, and Gynecology. Works every time.

        • cakes_and_pies

          I know a girl who voted for Rick Scott knowing full and well he would close her division leaving her fired and in an area with little job opportunities. I have no idea why she was surprised when she was out of a job 2 weeks after his inauguration.

          • BK37

            Exactly. Just like that fool in Kentucky who finally got health insurance through Obamacare, but he went out and voted for the governor who campaigned on closing down the exchange that set all that up. Da fuq????

          • Kas

            What was her reasoning?

            • cakes_and_pies

              She was Republican. Das it.

              • Kas

                Partisanship is real in these streets. Kudos to her her for sticking with her convictions . . . I guess, shrug

      • Mr. Quojo .

        LOL, I tried to think of rational response. But I’m just going to pray to sweet baby Jesus.

  • Rachel Louise Wright

    I am British, I voted remain, and I take offence that you say we left because we are racist. The reason so many voted leave is complex, myriad, and has it roots in the Global crash (propagated by USA financial institutions). To say it is because we are racist is myopic and racist in it self.

    • Other_guy13

      Offense…no shade intended

      • Rachel Louise Wright

        Pedantic

        • Other_guy13

          I really want trying to be rude. I am very interested the real reason for the push to exit. It just caught my eye is all. But as a British person, can you explain why so many of your countrymen want to leave the EU?

          • Rachel Louise Wright

            Well I voted remain. But there was a lot of dirty politics and scare mongering among both sides especially around the free movement of peoples within the EU. The UK is a small island with finite resources and we have had a steady stream of economic migrants from eastern Europe. The burgeoning population has not been supported by the government, instead of putting more resources into our health care and schools, they have cut budgets, putting a very real strain on our local resources (governments fault not the economic migrants who put in 2.5 bil into our economy).

            While I am all for people wanting to work and better themselves, some of our smaller communities have seemed to have a larger proportion of European settlers. It is only natural that ethnic groups tend to congregate. The problem is the UK has been very poor in encouraging integration between the diverse ethnic groups and in my opinion this has made some people to feel marginalized.

            Couple that with the very real austerity we are living with (rich have got richer, poor have got poorer), this has allowed the far right and people like Nigel Farage to pray upon peoples fears. I cant help but think part of the vote was a way of demonstrating to the government how dissatisfied people are in general. We dont have any viable opposition to the current government and British politics in general is stagnant. I wont be surprised though if people who voted leave feel they have made the wrong choice in the coming months. Today was a very sad day for the UK.

            Apologies if I came across stroppy earlier, really wasn’t my intention.

            • Okitech623

              I’ve read that the vote is non-binding technically. Any possibility that the government would go against what appears to be the will of the majority of the people and refrain from going through with it?

              • Rachel Louise Wright

                The 48.2 percent who voted remain are petitioning the government to hold a 2nd referendum. This may be a possibility as it is likely Scotland (who voted unanimously to remain) will break off from UK and declare independence through a referendum. If that is the case, many leavers would rather remain in EU than risk the break up of UK. Therefore a 2nd vote may be possible.

                However the government and the EU are being obstructive. The govt said there would only be 1 vote, and EU want UK out as quickly as possible to try and avoid further EU dissent. The UK will be made an example of to prevent further EU breaks.

            • Other_guy13

              So in a nutshell, and correct me if I am wrong, the destabilization of the Middle East has cause many to flood your country and put a major strain on your economy and resources.

            • Other_guy13

              Oh and no worries….I like a healthy conversation.

            • Kas

              Thanks for the post.

          • -h.h.h.-

            fear tactics have no effect on those w/ very little to lose.

            *goes back into the shadows*

            • Other_guy13

              H.H.H…..you….nevermind…glad to hear from ya lol

        • Other_guy13

          You stumped me for a sec…good word.

          • Mizwest

            Right, I went straight to google and then was like d@mn, I need to step my vocabulary up.

      • PhlyyPhree

        I couldn’t help it. I snickered.

        • Other_guy13

          Lord…I’m not tryna hurt nobody today…I just want everyone to be great.

      • Tee

        Isn’t offence the British spelling of the word tho? Just asking.

        • Other_guy13

          IDK…could be…#kanyeshrug

      • Ess Tee

        Lol. British spelling, like “defence” and “colour” and “favour.”

        • Tee

          Thought so. I said the same thing.

      • Kas

        Cue, queue Q. Welcome to my world.

        • Other_guy13

          I mean….whatever…I stand by what I wrote even if I’m wrong…cuz… ‘Murica

    • Ess Tee

      Of course the “leave” vote was complex, but you don’t think the rumblings of UKIP played a (perhaps significant) part in it?

      Nigel Farage was talking about the money that Britain was paying to the EU, and I imagine many of the “leave” voters were thinking about how it makes *total* sense to not spend that money. Except now Nigel Farage is all “Man, I don’t know what y’all were talking about with this money. It wasn’tme.”

      • Wasn’t he the same kat driving around in a BUS with “it’s all about the money” plastered on the side? My man talking out of both sides of his neck

        • Mochasister

          Flip flopping like a fish out of water.

    • Damon Young

      If it’s any consolation, I don’t believe you’re any more or less racist than we (collectively) are.

      • Kas

        That is not saying much

        • KNeale

          lol. my thoughts the same. everybody missed the part where she said” calling us racist is racist” so I’m keep moving but yeah the British institution is racist just like the American institution is.

          • Other_guy13

            I have a coworker who is British who just explained the entire situation as “If every time I went out with the boys and I had to pay, I would get sick and leave too”. Then he added “The Donald Trump effect of trickle down Racism is a factor too” so yea…It’s a lot going on.

    • Agatha Guilluame

      The South still insists the civil war wasn’t about slavery. They say the reasons were myriad and complex and based on the ideals of the founding fathers wanting state rights to supercede federal laws etc etc. I don’t believe them either.

      I made two points there…I used the South as a catchall when I really mean specific types of Southerners. And I also gave you an analogy to show you how you’re being perceived.

      Hope that helped.

      ‘Murica

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