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Reactions in London to “Brexit,” the state of the European Union

Reactions in London to “Brexit,” the state of the European Union

Reactions in London to “Brexit,” the state of the European Union
June 29
08:36 2016

Sarah Lagro | Contributing Writer


The world was reeling Friday, June 24, as British citizens voted to exit the European Union after 43 years of membership.

Since its inception in 1957, no nation has ever left the EU. Its leadership released an official statement after the announcement of the vote, encouraging the United Kingdom to begin exit talks as quickly as possible.

Later Friday morning, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation, saying the will of the British people “must be respected.” Cameron said he would step down by October and leave most of the negotiations in the hands of new leadership.

“I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months,” Cameron said at a news conference. “But I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”

The polls tallied with 52 percent voting to leave the EU, while 48 percent voted to stay. According to BBC, the areas of Scotland, Northern Ireland and London voted overwhelmingly to stay, while other areas of Britain, such as Wales, chose to leave.

Voters ages 18-24 voted at 73 percent to remain, and people over the age of 65 voted at 60 percent to leave. Overall, the ticket to leave the EU won the majority in 270 counting areas while remain won a total 129.

“I wasn’t totally shocked, but I still didn’t expect it somehow,” London resident Adam Wordsworth said. “It’s divided my family a bit.”

Reasons for voters to stay or remain varied from education level, age and region.

Voting results compiled by BBC  show areas with both higher educated people and young people were likely to vote remain. Areas with the most elderly voters and least number of graduates leaned toward leaving the EU.

Many young voters said they chose to remain because of the opportunities available through the EU.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without the European Union,” schoolteacher Elizabeth Mind said. “I got my education overseas and really found myself through my years spent outside of England.”

Citizens of EU countries are allowed to travel, work and attend university in other EU nations. There are multiple programs tailored to do so and all can be done without a visa.

But some voters who chose to leave disagreed with these broad opportunities.

“I’m originally from the Czech Republic, and I still voted leave,” software developer Dominik Krechev said. “I went to school here and found a very good job, but it’s nothing compared to what happens at skilled positions. People from other countries will move into Britain and take jobs like doctors, business management and other professional careers, while English people don’t get a chance.”

Issues with immigration appeared to be a driving force behind the leave campaign. Two years ago, Ukip party leader Nigel Farage said foreigners had taken over Britain and left it unrecognizable.

His words carried as the Ukip party led the Brexit.

“This is a victory for ordinary people, for good people, for decent people,” Farage said.

But the decision to leave the EU will not come without a price. Soon after the vote was announced, the value of the British pound dropped to a low 1.20 from 1.50. The current rate stands at 1.32 – the lowest value since 1985, according to Reuters.

While the uncertainty of the UK’s finances loom, so does the possibility of Northern Ireland and Scottish independence. In 2014, Scotland voted in a referendum to either remain part of the UK or to become its own independent nation.

Scotland voted to remain in 2014, but the Brexit might change its minds. According to BBC, 62 percent of Scottish voters chose to remain in the EU, and 55 percent of Northern Ireland voters chose to remain. This divide could potentially bring about another referendum for Scotland to separate from the UK to remain part of the EU.

According to EU regulations, it will take a minimum of two years for Britain to completely withdraw from the EU. Talks and negotiations could continue for years before anything is complete, but Britain must abide by EU laws and regulations in the meantime and will not have say in EU matters.

Negotiations with the 27 European Union Countries could begin at any time, but all the UK can do is wait.

“I saw a future in the EU. I hoped for better,” Mind said. “I wish I knew what was coming next, but I don’t think we would’ve left if we did.”

Sarah Lagro is a student at the Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT and is currently in London for Mayborn’s study abroad program.

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