The Leave side was littered with xenophobic, racist, alt right, and all round loony people. The Remain side was filled with economists, political journalists, and reasonable people. I was convinced that, in the end, the UK as we knew it would survive this referendum.
But I wake up today to find that the UK has voted to leave the European Union. I’m still surprised. What does that mean for my British colleagues working here in Germany? What does that mean for the Europeans working in the UK?
More than that, what does that mean for democracy within the UK?
For one thing, there is now a genuine question over the shape of this kingdom. Scotland (like London) voted to remain inside the European Union. Every one of its political parties (bar the UK Independence Party) urged a remain vote. Yet now Scotland is set to be dragged out of the EU, against its collective will.
The demand will be loud and instant for Scotland to assure its own destiny by breaking free of the UK. This is precisely the kind of “material change” that the Scottish National party always said would be enough to warrant a second referendum to follow the one held in 2014. And this time, surely, there will be a majority for independence. So a first legacy of 23 June could well be the imminent break-up of the UK.
The implications will be profound for Northern Ireland too. The return of a “hard border” between north and south imperils a peace which was hard-won and too often taken for granted. Note this morning’s warning from Sinn Fein that the British government has “forfeited any mandate to represent the economic and political interests of people in Northern Ireland.”
This is a freaking mess. They’re going to take a massive hit to their stability and their currency now, at least in the short run. I think this move is going to hurt the UK far more than the EU, and I feel for them.
But it also gets me thinking… am I also going to see a Trump Presidency?