It seems quite certain to this hour that the people of the United Kingdom opted to leave the European Union. While the pound has started plummeting and experts have been quite robustly forecasting a drop in GDP exceeding one percent, the common Britain will most likely not face any severe personal consequences from those developments. Most likely, he is even more than willing to trade these minor caveats against some (fictitious) increase in sovereignty, the convenience of continued debate about professional athletes’ weight in stones and the triumph of the pint over half a liter of ale.
The immediate consequences of “Brexit” to the UK economy, no matter how often eloquently repeated by experts and self-proclaimed ones, represent, however, a rather minor part of the big picture. The influx of refugees from the middle East, the resurgence of terrorism in Europe and financial turmoil combine to a prolific breeding ground for nationalism and myopia.
A continent (to a large extent) disproportionately spoiled by peace and prosperity struggles to come to terms with modern reality. Uncertainty and fear augment the words of Gerd Wilders, Heinz-Christian Strache, Viktor Orban, the Le Pen clan and their equals.
Brexit might instill the belief in their minds that their long term goals of sovereignty and social austerity have never been as realizable as in this moment. While the phalanx of conservatives and social democrats in the leading economies of Europe appear to be too powerful (yet), this is far from fact for many smaller European countries and, sadly, historical evidence does not draw a too rosy picture of “a Europe” in lack of cohesion and solidarity.