Monday, July 11, 2016

Brexit - Referendum was fundamentally a bad choice

There were hundreds of articles written about the effect of Brexit on European politics, economy and integration. Economic problems in old mining towns and rural England, migration from Eastern Europe, refugees from Syria and beyond, loss of jobs, presumed loss of sovereignty, Brussel’s bureaucracy etc were cited as main reasons why people voted for an exit (simple majority) from European Union. By the way, this was the same club which was turned down by Briton when invited to join as a founder member and later rejected entry to Britain twice (in both cases the application was vetoed by France).

More than Brexit, what concerns me more is the disintegration of the country which we currently know us United Kingdom. The problem neither started with EU referendum nor it will end with British exit from EU. The problem is not limited to Britain alone but to other European countries as well. I believe the problem started with Scottish referendum. From where, Prime Minister David Cameroon got the idea of holding a referendum on Scottish Independence? It made sense if Scotland joined with Britain recently or at least a decade back. But no; Scotland became part of United Kingdom due to some historical coincidence (King James VI & I was son of Mary - Queen of Scots; great-great-grandson of Henry VII - King of England and Lord of Ireland (through both his parents); thus he finally accedes to all three thrones and ruled three countries as personal union).

Coming back to original question, why Referendum? This is not an issue of passing some law, election or something like that. Even if it passed in favor of those who organized it in the first place, referendum about national integration/division possess a grave risk of partitioning the country. Moreover, it is like, a generation of people most often looking into short term problems taking a decision (which is most often irreversible in nature) for future generations as well. Whatever pro-referendum advocates say, referendum is not to be employed for deciding the partitioning of a state. Even if they are doing it, the decision is not supposed to be taken by a simple majority. A two-third majority is a must.

Conducting referendum on the question of Scottish independence Cameroon made two mistakes. First one, Scotland can (for that matter Wales, England or Northern Ireland can) ask for another referendum for exit from the union in the future. Once we set foot in this path, it is hard to comeback. Second one is, future British governments will be forced to hold referendum on matter which are very much unpopular but necessary.

As a colonial overload of the past - a country who ruled an empire in which sun never sets; a country from which close to 60 modern countries got independence - should have looked in to history in much more detail.


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