As one probably has heard of by now, citizens of the United Kingdom recently voted to (Br)exit the European Union – which some were never really thrilled to be part of in the first place. Despite one’s opinion of such decision, there can be nothing but respect for the right to self-determination. This is the reason why what will follow should not be seen as a critique of this choice but rather a review of the means by which the aforementioned right is exercised. In the light of recent events, such means will most likely lead to harsh terms for the UK in the Brexit deal, if any deal is reached at all.
To be honest, France as a country may not have much to do with the Brexit vote. However, French culture has more to do with Brexit than it seems – the UK has fully embraced regarding this particular matter. As much as one usually would exult at the bare thought of the UK – the soil that remained untouched by the French centuries after centuries – embracing French culture, one must admit that only sadness comes to mind regarding this issue.
One could – and probably should – wonder what French culture has to do with this matter exactly. On a more serious note, the UK, unfortunately, seems to have been inspired by the French Unions’ modus operandi. UKIP and other Leave supporters did not rip clothes off David Cameron as strikers did to Air France’s Director of Human Resources, but they might as well have had. The Leave camp organised its campaign as French Unions organise theirs: win first, think later. Guess what? Tricking voters using lies and half-truths – such as pledging £350m per week to the NHS – constitutes the simple part of the process. If being French teaches one thing, it is the following: criticising an establishment is easy, coming up with realistic and meaningful reforms? Not so much.
The Leave camp’s main challenge is not, and has never been, the vote itself but rather its aftermath. Sadly, their leaders seem not to have given a single thought to the matter. It became more evident every single day that leading politicians of the Leave campaign lacked strong convictions in the EU-membership debate and simply tried their luck in the British ‘political chessboard’. Unluckily for them, binge-watching House of Cards does not appear to be sufficient to become a talented politician. Both Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage learned this the hard way. Didn’t someone tell them that a proper captain goes down with the ship? It seems not.
Or is it the case that they not care enough about the UK to stick to that ship? In their defence, conditions are probably not as favourable to them as they had fantasised. Perhaps, the Leave campaign’s modus operandi led to nothing but a potential disaster for what citizens intended to preserve: the UK itself. The road to hell is paved with good intentions after all.
Today, the future of the UK is as uncertain as it possibly could be. As the French Economic Minister, Emmanuel Macron, stated a few weeks ago, the UK – or at least what would be left from it if Scotland or Northern Ireland decides to secede – might experience a “Guernseyfication”. Such theory implies that the UK would experience a decrease in attractiveness and therefore need to pass tax haven-like measures to draw foreign direct investment. This has been corroborated by George Osborne’s will to slash corporate tax to less than 15% to prevent companies’ departure from the UK.
In a nutshell, as French workers pay the bill when unions trigger endless strikes for petty reasons, UK citizens will foot the bill for the incompetence and cowardice of the Leave leaders. Such analysis, of course, holds only in a relatively short-term perspective. Today, Brexit’s long term consequences are utterly unthinkable. Perhaps the UK shall rise again from its ashes, as it always has.