[Thomas Boon | Contributing Writer]
On Thursday 23rd July 2016, Britain went to the polling station, the question in mind not “Who should represent you in government?” but instead, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”. By a marginal majority of 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent, the country decided that it wished to cut its ties with the European Union. This was a decision that triggered, as Lemony Snicket would put it, a series of unfortunate events.
The value of the pound has fallen to its lowest ever value against the US Dollar since 1985; in fact, it’s the biggest one-day fall that the currency has ever seen. David Cameron has announced his intended resignation from the position of Prime Minister of the country, whilst Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is potentially being ousted from his position after Labour MPs announced a vote of no confidence. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has declared that a second Scottish Independence referendum could be on the cards as it is “democratically unacceptable” that Scotland could be removed from the EU, following the overwhelming vote for remain in the country (62%).
Many politicians and other big names have been making their stance on the results known. However, arguably the best comment of the day was from US Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, who tweeted “Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!”. Ironically, almost two-thirds of voters in Scotland wished for the country to remain. It was also interesting, if not amusing, to see Nigel Farage, a man who failed to keep his promise to resign as the leader of UKIP following the loss of his seat in the general election, call for the immediate resignation of David Cameron.
So, what does the vote mean for you and me? In the United Kingdom, referendums usually have no legal standing, with the exception of the Alternative Voting referendum of 2011. This means that despite the vote, the UK government has no obligation to act on the results. In fact, Cameron has stated, “I think it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU”. This means that until the Conservative party conference in October, when a new Prime Minister is expected to come to power, no action will be taken to formally leave the EU.
Despite the fall in the pound, the threat of more independence referendums and resignations in parliament, possibly the biggest problem caused by the vote is the divide between the Leave and Remain supporters. This divide has gotten gradually bigger over the past few weeks. Friends have lost trust in each other, families have had rows, and politicians disagreements. Who knows how long it will take for the cracks to be repaired?