In the wake of the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) vote to leave the European Union (EU), numerous questions hang in the air with the entire world wondering what this could imply for the U.K., our global economy and international relations.
To help answer some of the questions swirling around “Brexit,” FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs brought together a panel of experts at a teach-in hosted June 29.
The panel included David Prodger, British Consul General of Miami; Markus Thiel, director of Jean Monnet Center of Excellence and European & Eurasian Studies Program; Cem Karayalcin, chairman and professor in the Department of Economics; and history professor Gwyn Davies.
Called a “geopolitical earthquake” by Thiel, a “serious error” by Davies and a “massive exercise in democracy” by Prodger, Brexit is nothing if not an immensely relevant and “once-in-a-generation” situation that will go down in the history books.
Here are four takeaways from the teach-in:
1. The referendum asking U.K. citizens if they wanted to remain or leave the EU may have been long overdue.
“It was the first time that we had consulted the U.K. population on our relationship with the EU since 1975,” said Prodger.
He explained that more than 33 million people voted on the issue – an impressive voter turnout.
The result is unequivocal, he said. The people have spoken and nearly 52 percent of the U.K. wishes to leave the EU.
Meanwhile Davies said he considered the referendum unnecessary, as he feels it was tied to party political gain. However, he emphasized the importance of learning to live with the consequences of this “catastrophic economic, social and political decision.”
2. U.K. will face both costs and benefits from leaving the EU.
According to Karayalcin, there are numerous reasons why U.K. citizens may feel that leaving the EU is for the best, including regaining control of their regulations in trade and immigration and the abysmal performance of the European economy in recent years.
Karayalcin also pointed out that from the U.K. perspective, benefits of exiting the EU include less regulation and less meddling from EU bureaucrats in Brussels.
The U.K., however, will most likely face a loss in their GDP and other economic consequences, including short-term and long-term damage to trade and foreign direct investments relations with the EU.
3. This is uncharted territory.
This is a historic moment, and no one can be sure what will happen next.
Thiel suggested that many referendums similar to the Brexit vote do not reach fulfillment, so he wondered whether the U.K. will end up leaving the EU at all.In response, Prodger said the U.K. will exit the EU, as the prime minister considers the referendum a mandate from the people that will be respected.
The worry exists that allowing the U.K. to leave the EU may encourage other EU countries to follow suit. Thiel added that since the other EU countries have a common currency – the euro – they may be discouraged from exiting since it would be more expensive.
As for Scotland and Northern Ireland, whose citizens voted to stay in the EU, speculation continues.
4. The U.K. will remain the same global powerhouse it is today.
And the U.K. will continue its close ties with the EU.
“What is very clear is that the U.K. will continue to have an incredibly strong relationship with our European partners,” Prodger said.
What does this mean for U.K.-U.S. relations?
“The U.S. is one of the U.K.’s strongest partners, and it will remain that way,” Prodger affirmed.
To watch the teach-in in its entirety, visit FIU’s Facebook page.