It would have been an understatement to call the Brexit vote a surprise at the time. Like most people who followed the news, I was stunned at the outcome.
Most of us understood the anti-Europe sentiment that was growing in the UK. But we also believed that eventually people would see sense and understand that remaining in an imperfect union was better than departing.
We were wrong. And now Brexit is lighting the flames for change across Europe.
Others Draw Inspiration from Brexit
When people see dramatic change occurring in a neighboring country, it can understandably inspire them to think similar change could occur in theirs.
Both left and right wing parties throughout Europe are emboldened because of Brexit. These parties may have incompatible goals, but they are encouraged for similar reasons.
People saw Brexit as more than just wanting to leave Europe. They see it as rejecting the status quo. And they would be correct.
A Vote For Change – Even Worse Change
When the Brexit vote occurred, I wanted to understand why so many had decided that it was best to leave the EU.And many people I spoke to in England had a similar sentiment: they were tired of the status quo and they wanted to see change.
Many of them understood that negative consequences were possible because of the vote. But they were tired of going through the same patterns and seeing nothing in return. They wanted to do something different.
Will Others Leave Europe?
The question that many are asking after the Brexit vote is whether other countries are going to take a similar approach. While there is no immediate danger of other countries wanting to leave the EU, it would be foolish to reject the idea.
There is already a party in Finland that is trying to set up a referendum. The Finns Party may not be the one that has the most votes in that nation, but I would not be surprised if the tide turned in their direction in the next few years.
Common Issues Among “Leavers”
Common themes do exist among the people who want to leave the EU, whether they are living in Finland, Hungary, UK or another nation. Many people are unhappy with the state of their economies, where they feel the bigger nations such as Germany get all the benefit of being in the EU.
Immigration is also a very important issue. There are many people who do not feel as if free movement throughout Europe makes sense for every nation. They also have issues with immigrants or refugees gaining status in one nation, such as Germany, and then having access to all of Europe.
If you were to ask me how I see this playing out, I am unable to give an answer. But it is clear the EU is under greater threat than many would like to admit.
It is possible compromises will be made to alleviate the concerns of individual nations. But it is also likely that we will see votes similar to Brexit in other nations in the next three to five years.