By Catherine DiMercurio
On Thursday, June 23, 2016, the people of Great Britain held a referendum on whether to leave the European Union. In the months leading up to the historic vote, the prospect of the British exit from the EU came to be known as “Brexit.” The world was shocked to learn the outcome of the vote: The British people voted to leave the EU. I was shocked as well. My fourteen-year-old son is fairly politically engaged and had a lot of questions, as did I. What our research revealed is that there is a tangled web of cause and effect. Here are a few of the issues at the heart of that web.
What lead the Brits to hold the referendum in the first place?
Those who argued for leaving pointed to the diminished influence Britain has had within the massive bureaucracy of the EU. There were also concerns about the steady increase in immigration to Great Britain. The arguments for staying focused heavily on the importance of economic relationships with the European community and beyond. These arguments are detailed in a number of articles and audio files presented in Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context.
Who was Jo Cox and why was she murdered?
In the days leading up to the vote, the Brexit debate took a tragic turn when Jo Cox, a member of Parliament in favor of remaining, was shot and killed. Gale Global Issues In Context brings the user in immediate contact with timely sources covering Cox’s murder. These articles explore why the murder was linked to the Brexit vote.
What is the history of the British relationship with the EU?
The EU initially began in the aftermath of World War II as a coal and steel alliance that Britain was excluded from until 1973. Two years later, Britain held a referendum not unlike the one that recently took place, when they voted on whether to remain in the European Economic Community. At that time, they voted to stay. A thorough and easy to understand summary of the European Union’s history, found in Worldmark Modern Conflict and Diplomacy, can provide students with the historical context necessary to understand the Brexit vote.
What are the global repercussions of the Brexit vote?
In the aftermath of the referendum, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who advocated remaining in the EU, has stated that he will resign from office. The EU has been beleaguered by a series of financial crises since the global financial collapse in 2008. General OneFile contains numerous articles from periodicals such as Newsweek that help explain such issues. It remains unclear how severe the impact of Britain’s exit will be on the economy of EU members, though financial markets globally began to plunge before the votes were even fully counted. Global Issues In Context provides a wealth of resources from leading international news providers including CPI Financial about the economic impact of Brexit.
Are there parallels between the Brexit vote and the political climate in America?
For many Britons, the Brexit vote hinged on a desire to protect national interests and national identity. Yet the world will be impacted in countless ways. While traveling in Scotland (which voted for Britain to remain in the EU), Donald Trump praised the outcome of the Brexit vote. What do the economic policies Trump has outlined on the campaign trail have in common with Brexit and the political mood of Great Britain? In what ways do you anticipate the Brexit vote will impact the United States and the world?