The results of the much-anticipated Brexit vote — Britain’s decision whether or not to leave the European Union — are now being projected. It appears that British voters have elected to leave the EU, by a margin of 52% to 48%.
Despite polling that suggested either outcome was a very real possibility, the outcome nonetheless has stunned the world. Financial markets are already quaking, and the value of the British pound plummeted.
As The New York Times reports:
With 309 of 382 of the country’s cities and towns reporting early on Friday, the Leave campaign held a 52 percent to 48 percent lead. The BBC called the race for the Leave campaign shortly before 4:45 a.m., with 13.1 million votes having been counted in favor of leaving and 12.2 million in favor of remaining.
Britain will become the first country to leave the 28-member bloc, which has been increasingly weighed down by its failures to deal fully with a succession of crises, from the financial collapse of 2008 to a resurgent Russia and the massive influx of migrants last year.
For the European Union, the result is a disaster, raising questions about the direction, cohesion and future of a bloc built on liberal values and shared sovereignty that represents, with NATO, a vital component of Europe’s postwar structure.
Britain is the second-largest economy after Germany in the European Union, a nuclear power with a seat on the United Nations Security Council, an advocate of free-market economics and a close ally of the United States.
The loss of Britain is an enormous blow to the credibility of a bloc already under pressure from slow growth, high unemployment, the migrant crisis, Greece’s debt woes and the conflict in Ukraine.
While leaders of the Leave campaign spoke earnestly about sovereignty and the supremacy of Parliament or in honeyed tones about “the bright sunlit uplands” of Britain’s future free of Brussels, it was anxiety about immigration — membership in the European Union means freedom of movement and labor throughout the bloc — that defined and probably swung the campaign.
With net migration to Britain of 330,000 people in 2015, more than half of them from the European Union, Mr. Cameron had no effective response to how he could limit the influx.
Could it be that people are waking up to the real and growing problems the European Union has introduced with immigration policies that are destroying both European culture and the very security of its people?
Interesting to note that President Obama had admonished Britons to vote to remain in the EU, as did Hillary Clinton. And who had encouraged them to leave? Donald Trump, of course.
The winds of change blowing right for a change?