The referendum held in the UK on June 23 has produced what is reasonably described as a seismic result. There was a 73 per cent turnout and by dawn on June 24, there was a clear majority of votes to leave. Shortly before 5am, the decision taken in 1975 to join the European Union (EU) was reversed and the UK entered uncharted territory. A local result is going to have a global impact, and unravelling a 43-year relationship is going to take at least another two years according to the majority of pundits.
Nothing is going to happen immediately. Trade and the movement of people will continue uninterrupted, but the political and social fabric of the UK comes under a tension unlike anything experienced before. With the vote almost equally divided, a glance at the map reveals that it was England that chose to leave the EU, Scotland decided to stay as did Northern Ireland, and Wales came somewhere between the two but was far from united in the desire to leave and Prime Minister David Cameron swiftly fell on his sword. London wanted to stay, the heart of the political and financial establishment, and the UK is more disunited than at any other time in its recent history. It is too early to say in any detail what may be the consequences of this event, but the pound sterling dropped like a stone in the hours after the result, and by noon the GB pound was worth Rs144, down almost Rs10 in the space of 24 hours. Immigration — from everywhere — was the cornerstone of much of the acrimonious debate that surrounded the referendum. The UK has got progressively harder to enter for migrants, both voluntary and involuntary, a situation that is only going to get worse. Travel restrictions between the UK and EU countries are now likely, free movement no longer possible. Few political events of recent times will have the global impact that the success of the Brexit campaign is going to have on the rest of the world. The adage ‘Be careful what you wish for’ is rarely more apt.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2016.