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What Will Happen in Case of Brexit? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Not many people expected that the referendum, which will be held in 10 days to decide whether Britain should leave the European Union (EU), would turn into a nightmare.

Previous expectations showed that a massive majority supported remaining in the EU. However, recent polls revealed a larger tendency to reject British membership.

The EU is a complicated model of regional cooperation as it consists of 28 countries whose civilians speak 24 different languages.

The number of EU citizens is 500 million, and its size is slightly more than four million kilometers squared – almost that of Algeria and Saudi Arabia combined.

Nevertheless, EU is considered one of the richest economies in the world as per-capita income is high.

Historically, Britain’s relation with the EU has been unstable from the beginning.

A look at the map is enough to explain the reason as Britain is an island off mainland Europe, and it considers itself in an ongoing defense for its existence.

In 1963, when Britain decided to become a member in the EU, the French President Charles De Gaulle vetoed its membership.

This refusal angered the Britons because when he was wanted by the Germans during their occupation of France, Britain provided him with all the help needed to liberate his country and defeat the Germans.

Ten years after his veto, Britain entered the EU and despite that, British governments did not want all the membership benefits and refused to comply with all its conditions.

Britain requested certain exceptions for itself, such as not giving up its pound sterling as its currency, not opening its borders for foreigners, and not cancelling the visas.

Despite these exceptions, some in Britain do not feel comfortable being in the EU.

When the British government decided to hold a referendum on staying in the EU, it may not have expected that the opposing movement would reach a majority.

Additionally, those who oppose the membership have gone far in intimidating people over issues such as immigration, the government’s financial commitments toward the EU, and taxes.

This is what the U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump is doing by exploiting fears about Latino immigrants and “Muslim terrorists.”

Now that exiting the EU has become probable in case the majority votes for it, the talk is directed towards extrapolating the consequences.

Will the British economy, which is the eighth largest in the world, retract? Will the value of the sterling decline? Will the country become less important internationally?

Britain, with no doubt, plays an important role in the EU, which will be lost, the moment it leaves, and this will weaken its global status and affect Britain negatively.

Those who support leaving, however, say Britain’s situation will be better because it will not have to spend on the EU and will not be flooded with refugees, thus allowing the country to seal bilateral deals that suit it.

These promises seem unrealistic in a world that depends a lot on economic blocs. There will be negative, political and economic repercussions.

If Britain’s exit does not destroy the EU, it will encourage other disturbed countries to leave. It will also motivate sociologists to study the problematics of the EU that emerged due to differences in sovereign systems, economic patterns, and various expectations among member countries.

The union, as a conglomerate of people and a united market, is very important. However, it remains a group of countries that will be influenced by domestic circumstances, politically and economically, and this will negatively affect the EU; similar to what happened with Spain and Greece.

Not all countries want to be in the union. Denmark withdrew, and Iceland decided to suspend membership negotiations.

Several countries have not been allowed to join. Turkey, a small part of which is in Europe, has repeatedly demanded membership, but the EU thinks it is democratically immature.

If Brexit happens, it will change the path of the continent and the country’s future.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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