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The EU Referendum in the UK, June 23 2016

England and Wales Vote to leave EU.

John Bryden, 0855 UK time, 24 June

 

Yesterday, two of the four constituent nations of the formerly United Kingdom – England, and Wales – voted to leave the EU, while two voted to remain – Scotland and Northern Ireland. The vote in Scotland was 62% remain, and 38% exit. All Scottish local authority areas voted to remain in the EU, a very convincing result.

 

In the first instance, Mr Cameron, PM of the UK, bears the responsibility for the dreadful result in England and Wales. He promised a referendum on EU membership in order to win votes from the far right parties at the last election, and now he must carry the can for all that follows. Those who voted to leave are not likely to be beneficiaries, as power has shifted to the right wing populists who declared that the Uk had won ‘Independence’. But they are certainly voters who have been disaffected, and harmed, by the neo-liberal turn in UK politics since the 1970s, and they blame the problems, as ever, on immigrants and the EU! The curious thing is that, although Scots have also been badly affected by the neoliberal turn, they did not vote the same way as the English.

 

Nicola Sturgeon, the feisty First Minister of Scotland, said the only positive thing that can be said of the Referendum, namely that Scotland has spoken – and spoken decisively.” As she also said this morning, the Scots see their future within the EU and not outside it.

 

Nicola Sturgeon will no doubt move quickly to do her best to ensure that Scotland remains within the European family, and restore her historic alliances with the Nordic Countries, and perhaps France, as part of this process. There will surely be an early Referendum on Scottish independence from England and Wales, as an essential part of this process. In this ‘indyref2’ the Scots are surely likely to vote to leave the UK, since by far the majority of Scots have no wish or interest in being governed by the English far right populists who essentially won this referendum, and who have gained power as a result of it.

 

We live in exciting times. Perhaps that is the most positive thing that can be said of them. The rest of Europe will be affected by the UK vote, and English exit. Perhaps it will help to contain the enthusiasm of those in Brussels who argue for stronger EU powers, and yet more centralised governance. This in turn will lead to greater resistance, especially in the Scandinavian countries, and possibly others in the periphery of the EU. Perhaps we will see a return of stronger Nordic cooperation, one which Scotland would be keen to be part of, in order to balance the centralisers in France, Poland and Germany. Meantime, we are in for a bumpy ride, so hedge your bets!