History & Politics

The Great British Breakup

MD | ET Student

Just as much of the U.S. was shocked at the results of the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, the U.K. was equally surprised by the June 2016 decision to leave the European Union; popularly termed “Brexit”, short for the British “exit” from the European Union. After the controversial and surprising referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron resigned and Theresa May succeeded him. Both politicians were against the decision leave the E.U.

So how did this happen? Why did the people of the U.K. decide to leave the E.U.?


The Union Jack flies in the wind along Lake Windermere in Ambleside.| Photo by Meghan Duerre

The major Brexit talking point in American media asks what is fiscally and economically best for the U.K. As an American, that is all I had ever considered as I pondered what I would have voted for if I were a British citizen. However after speaking to Tim, a Scotland native, at Bruntsfield Evangelical Church in Edinburgh, I realized just how complex this history-making decision was. Brexit is about so much more than the health of the pound.

Tim described his pro-Brexit vote as, “Much more about the principle right of national sovereignty, rather than economic stability…. We’re tired of having to go to Brussels and asking permission for things that aren’t their concern.”

Over a year after the Brexit decision, the British economy continues to climb. According to popular British newspaper, The Telegraph, consumer spending and confidence are up, contradicting the disaster that was expected by many economists. Most attribute this trend to a sense of relief people feel now that the burden of the unstable continental European economies are off British shoulders.

As Tim went on to explain the decision behind his “yes” vote, I couldn’t help but think of the similarities between Brexit and the American fight for independence from the British Empire. Even though this vote shocked the world, the desire for liberty and local power seems to transcend generations – resulting in massive political, economic and social decisions like Brexit.

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