Malaysiakini Letter

Brexit could open the door to greater European unity

V Thomas
Published:  |  Modified:

The Brexit referendum has shaken Britain, and Prime Minister David Cameron and the government as well as the opposition Labour Party are in a frenzy of damage control. The British are now realising the havoc and consequences of their actions. The Brexit result shows an evenly split nation and is reflective of the first past the post system which Britain has passed on into the electoral system of the former colonies.

David Cameron should have placed a condition that Brexit will only be a reality if at least 70 percent of the electorate voted in favour of it, not just a simple majority.This will have been a better reflection of the intensity of the people feelings.

Right now millions have signed an online petition to have a second referendum to annul the first. This will be impossible and unfair.The English language too will become a casualty and less popular as it had become the second language of Europe. Now the EU members will be opting for French as the lingua franca binding their citizens.

Worse still, Brexit could result in the break-up of the UK, with Scotland and Northern Ireland wanting to make their own exit from the U.K.The United Kingdom and Great Britain will no longer be ‘united’ or ‘great’ after their exit.

Both the sovereignty and immigration issues have been blown out of proportion during the Brexit campaign. Today no nation in the world is fully sovereign as nations are bound by treaties, pacts or alliances that limit their freedom.

So it has been in the case of Britain in the EU.The migration of East Europeans has been overly politicised as they will mostly return back to their own countries when the economies of their countries improve. Furthermore, they are Caucasians and Christians and can easily be integrated into the community.

This vacuum will now mostly be taken up by Commonwealth migrants who will stay permanently in Britain and the integration of these diverse communities into British society will be difficult and pose various problems in the future. Looking back at the last 20 years most of the troubles and riots in Britain were caused by racial and religious problems involving Commonwealth migrants, not East Europeans.

Despite numerous appeals by EU leaders for Britons to remain in the organisation they voted otherwise and now the EU wants to fast-track Britain’s exits as the EU does not want the prolonged negotiations, ranging from two to seven years, to destabilise it further.

From now on Britain will have to play second fiddle in the so called ‘special’ relationship with the US, based on an English commonality, whereas Britain was hitherto regarded as a prominent VIP member of the EU.

With a Donald Trump win a strong possibility and Boris Johnson - the British Trump - likely to succeed David Cameron there is a strong hint of a trans-Atlantic Brit-US alliance based on Anglo-saxon unity and isolationism becoming a future reality, or a re-kindling of a Bush-Blair like combination that has caused numerous problems and suffering in the Middle East.

More amenable to the inclusion of Russia

With the exit of Britain the remaining 27 members have to come together and forge a greater sense of European unity .With Britain gone the EU will be more amenable to the inclusion of Russia, possibly in the post-Putin era, and other East European states, and for the first time in history bring about complete European unity and solidarity that has evaded the European continent for centuries.

The EU missed a good opportunity to induct Russia into the grouping when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Warsaw Pact was dismantled. The ensuing socio-economic hardship after the abandonment of communism and the political instability in Russia was a good time to help the people and strengthen the democratic process. Unfortunately, this was not done and Russia has become what it is today - unfriendly and belligerent towards the West.

It is an irony of history that whereas Russia had always wanted to be included in Europe it has been left out in the cold but the British who had in the past prided in being more insular than continental have always be warmly welcomed into the EU and Europe! Possibly, it was the US that checkmated the idea. The EU members need to take Brexit in their stride and focus on European unity to ensure the security and prosperity of Europe.

The EU is also a caring organisation as it has helped Greece with billions of Euros to prevent the economy from collapsing and cause immense hardship to the people. The seamless socio-economic merger of East and West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall is another victory for the EU. This aspect and character of the EU must be taken into consideration by the Eurosceptics as also should be the troubles the British are going through after voting for Brexit.

With large nations like China and India and other regional groupings and trade pacts emerging the EU needs to think bigger, not smaller, to face the future changes and challenges and to ensure that Europe does not lose its political and economic clout in the coming decades. The break-up of the EU must be avoided at all costs. The EU is essential for its political, economic, environmental, military, regulatory and humanitarian contributions to the world.

The EU needs to address the Syrian refugee crisis comprehensively and competently as it has become the most destabilising factor in the EU today and had also alarmed the British to vote for a Brexit. The EU also needs to overcome poverty in some sections of society as these vulnerable people have become the most vocal critics as well as inciting right wing factions and nationalism.

One needs to understand that both World Wars,which caused colossal casualties and destruction, started in Eastern Europe and there are still some trouble spots in Europe such as the Ukraine, Georgia, Kosovo, Cyprus and Gibraltar that can ignite a war and only European unity and solidarity can prevent this.

The EU needs to stand on its own to ensure peace and security in Europe and not be dependent on the US as was the case when the US had to intervene by way of the Dayton Accord, in the face of European inability, to stop the war in the Balkans (Yugoslavia).

Being the most powerful and prosperous grouping in the world,the EU must show its clout and power such as opposing the siting of missiles to surround Russia that can have serious consequences or delay a possible Russsian membership in the EU in the future.

The US has no business in Europe to influence the EU in the grouping’s aim for total European unity and solidarity.The EU needs to have a strong independent foreign policy to shape the world around it.

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