Sunday, June 26, 2016

Vitriol and divisiveness trumps logic in United Kingdom

Once again we find ourselves abroad amid a major British crisis.

This time, instead of a newspaper hacking scandal (2011) or a banking scandal (2012), we watched the unfolding shock of the Brexit vote, a decision that will have a tremendous ripple effect on the United Kingdom and Europe for decades.

We – like most others in Ireland, Scotland and England – went to bed Thursday night having watched pundits say the exit polls looked to give the Remain coalition a slight victory. One of the leaders of the Leave campaign even issued a statement saying it appeared to him as if Remain would edge out the victory.

Then we woke up to headlines Friday bearing the stunning opposite news.

This, as you can imagine, has dominated the conversations and media – even to the degree of pushing Donald Trump to the background. 

Pretty much all of the newspapers' analysis of the Brexit vote reflected disgust and doom.
The Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole in his front page opinion piece compared the vote to a drunk man trying to whip off a table cloth in a “fast, clean snap.” Of course, that does not go as planned, and everything ends up crashing on the floor even if the drunken lout looks triumphant.

“Brexit has achieved the breathtaking feat of causing deep cracks in four different polities at a single stroke,” O’Toole wrote in Saturday’s paper.

Not only does it drive a wedge between England and the European Union, it reveals the divide within the English population fueled by what O’Toole calls the anger of “racism and chauvinism.” His point is that the Leave campaign tried to capitalize on working class voters’ frustrations at the job market and economic opportunities, as well as xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments. (Sound familiar?)

Cork was not looking forward to Trump. He decided not to show.
It also has severe consequences for Scotland and Ireland. Voters in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, which are part of the UK, overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU. Now Scotland is discussing another referendum to vote for independence so it can rejoin. And rumblings have started as well about Northern Ireland potentially bolting to unite the island under the Republic of Ireland's flag.

Meanwhile, Ireland is bracing for the economic effects of more complicated trade and border security rules with England.

“Ireland caught in the middle of potentially nasty divorce,” another Irish Times headline blares.

And the Irish are beyond annoyed at this, as stock markets almost immediately took a hit.

“No man is an island, no more than any nation,” the Times’ editorial says today. But now that English voters have spoken, they have succeeded only in inflicting “a deep wound on their country, economically and politically.”

American voters take note.

No comments:

Post a Comment