Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Upcoming Brexit Vote

A little more than a week from now, Britain is poised to vote on leaving the EU. This was initially seen as a mostly symbolic exercise, unlikely to present a real challenge to the status quo.

Now the tables have turned, and it looks to be a toss-up. Recent polls showing a rough 50-50 split and some have even giving a slight edge to the Leave camp. Recently, The Guardian featured a major op-ed in favor of Brexit and The Sun newspaper also threw its weight behind leaving the EU.

The vote is likely to have a much larger impact than the direct outcome might suggest. Britain doesn't share the same currency or central bank with the rest of the EU, so its withdrawal from the union should prove less difficult than if, say, Greece attempted the same thing. Even so, some are viewing a win for the Leave camp as the type of shock that might serve as the catalyst for the next economic downturn. The issue here seems to be less about the practical impact of Britain leaving, and more about the uncertainty it creates regarding the future of the EU in general.

From a libertarian or pro-peace perspective, we should have a rooting interest in favor of the Leave camp. One of the major motivating influences for the Leave campaign is the rising wave of anti-migrant sentiment, which is deeply regrettable. But it could accidentally have some beneficial results. In particular, Britain's departure from the EU is likely to have a positive impact on the foreign policy views of Europe. An independent Britain will predictably lean even further towards the US's interventionist ways. However, the rest of the EU has the potential to choose a different path. Throughout the recent conflicts, Germany has been among the more conciliatory voices on global affairs, ranging from relations with Iran to relations with Russia. Without Britain there to pull the EU back towards stupidity, we could see a post-Brexit EU emerge as something of a critic of US foreign policy. That could be overly optimistic, but it's at least conceivable if Britain leaves. In the present environment, the EU seems destined to rubber stamp current US policy.

Outside the context of global affairs, Brexit probably really will be good for Britain. There will be some obstacles to overcome initially, but it's unlikely an economy as important as Britain's will really be frozen out of global commerce just because it left the EU. Meanwhile, the move would allow the UK government to be more responsive to its own citizens' demands. In essence, the domestic argument for the UK leaving the EU bears a striking resemblance to the general argument for decentralization made in an American context. The more local a government is, the more responsive and the less powerful it tends to be. Works for US states; works for the EU's members as well.

And on that note, we'll recommend the recent centrist op-ed penned in The Guardian in favor of leaving. There are a few statements worth challenging in here, but it effectively captures the general frustration with the EU. It also might sound familiar to the large number of US citizens that decided to support Trump or Bernie as a clear protest against the status quo.

Brexit vote is about the surpremacy of Parliament and nothing else: Why I am voting to leave the EU

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