UK bids adiEU

In a stunning referendum, UK voted 52%-48% to leave the 28-nation European Union after 43 years, sending global markets into a tailspin and business leaders into crisis meetings, and triggering David Cameron's decision to exit as British PM. With far right-wing politicians across the continent demanding their countries break away too, the rising tide of strident nationalism, economic angst, anti-immigrant hostility and protectionism portends an uncertain future for liberalism and globalization.
The market turmoil reflected both the uncertainty among investors everywhere about the impact of he UK leaving the EU and the fact that the outcome of he referendum had caught them by surprise. Despite the vote, the UK will remain a member of the EU or possibly two more years while the long process of negotiating the terms of the exit are worked out with he EU. In his statement shortly after the results were announced, Cameron said he would leave it to his successor, to be chosen at the Conservative Party conference in early October, to initiate that process. The EU has rules for a country exiting the union under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, but they had never been put to test till now. (When Greenland left what was then the European Economic Community in 1985 following a referendum, there was no Article 50.) While the campaign in Britain on remaining or leaving in the EU has not strictly followed party lines --with members of Cameron's own Cabinet opposing him--the move to exit the Union was fuelled largely by the right-wing and depended on two central pillars: anxiety about the possibility of immigrants from or through the continent--particularly war torn Syria--inundating the UK, and a perception that `bureaucrats in Brussels' were dictating terms and curtailing British sovereignty . (EU rules allow unfettered movement of citizens of member-nations within the Union, including for employment.) Over 72% of the electorate turned out to vote in the historic referendum, higher than in any general election in the UK since 1992 --and an indication of how much the issue agitated people on either side of the Brexit divide.
The Brexit vote also highlighted divisions within the UK, with Scotland and Northern Ireland voting decisively in favour of remaining in the EU, and England and Wales approving the exit. The sharply different voting patterns have triggered demands for a fresh referendum on Scotland's continuation in the UK and another on Ireland's unification.
Right-wing parties in France, Italy, Holland and elsewhere were also quick to demand that similar referendums be held in their countries, con firming apprehensions that Brexit could provide a fillip to parties riding a rising tide of ultra nationalism across Europe. The rising tide of ultra nationalism represents an anti-globalising tendency in a world in which many have been `victims' of globalisation -caused by free trade and movement of labour -even if many more have benefited.
The anti-immigrant underpinnings of the Brexit vote, seen alongside the growth of right-wing parties in several European nations, could lead to a renewed debate on whether Europe's experiments with multiculturalism have failed or are failing -and could raise the rhetoric against Islam.
Some of England's biggest cities, like London, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol voted by big margins in favour of staying on in the EU, but that was not enough to offset the pro-exit vote in other parts of the island nation. The months-long debate within the UK on whether to stay on in the EU or break free had become nasty , with each side accusing the other of scaremongering.
The `Remain' camp charged those wanting Brexit with fuelling fears about uncontrolled entry of immigrants into the UK while those in favour of `Leave' said the pro-EU campaigners were overstating the economic perils of an exit in an attempt to scare voters into maintaining the status quo.
The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox last week, apparently over the Brexit vote, was seen by many as having jolted some in the `Leave' camp into reconsidering their position, but the final outcome suggests it wasn't enough to swing the vote.

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