From the Editor-in-Chief: As Britain crashes out of the EU . . .

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, June 30th, 2016
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The decision by British voters on 23 June to make their way out of the European Union has been nothing less than an earthquake not just for the United Kingdom or Europe but for the world as a whole. The shock has deeper meaning when one remembers that the general feeling was that the Remain camp would, despite the increasing nastiness of the referendum campaign, emerge triumphant. It is not merely that pro-Europe politicians in London, all the way from Prime Minister David Cameron to others in the government and in other political parties, campaigned hard for Britain to remain in the EU. There have been other individuals, in Europe and also global leaders like Barack Obama, who had made it clear that Brexit would not be a comfortable situation for the UK.


Now that the results of the referendum are known, one is aware of the uncomfortable that has happened. David Cameron has just been to his last summit with other EU leaders. Now begins the difficult process through which Britain must find the means to make its formal exit, under Article 50 of the Treaty of European Union, from the EU. It will be a rather tortuous exercise, fundamentally because it will entail a wholesale realignment of realities between Britain and the EU. Though it may not be a couple of years before London bids a formal farewell to the EU, the reality is that between now and then the UK will be in a lame duck position where decisions by the EU are concerned. A despondent Philip Hammond, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, has already noted that from here on Britain will have a diminished role in the European Union. In other words, London will not any more carry any weight in Brussels.


In the UK itself, there are good reasons for concern. There is the likelihood of institutions such as banks and other financial institutions moving out to Europe from the UK. The consequences of the decision to leave, which was 52 per cent in favour to 48 per cent against, will also be felt by the thousands of British industries which have huge business stakes in Europe. At the same time, there is now the very real possibility of large numbers of Britons employed in the continent returning home while people from European countries employed in the UK will be compelled by the new situation to retrace their steps back to the continent.


The burden will now be on the successor to Prime Minister David Cameron, who will leave office in October, to work out the details of the withdrawal from the EU. It will be an unenviable task.


It now remains to be seen how Britain copes with a future outside the EU. Again, all eyes will be on the EU, especially to see if it can weather the shock British voters have given it and whether it will emerge stronger from this crisis.

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