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The results of the Brexit´ referendum on June 23rd was as unexpected as transcendent. Against all odds, the British narrowly voted to leave the EU. Last week, some British people, mostly English, have justified the decision, as a reaffirmation of what they are, as giving a dose of self-love for themselves and, the confirmation that they are special, unique, exceptional and overall, a different country.
With the advent of the globalization brought by Thatcher, the UK was divided among many poor and few rich people, Scotland against England and London against the deep England. Given the circumstances, UK should have clung hardly to Europe. With the English narrative to use, it goes in the opposite direction, and arrived in the UK something which had never arisen before: the populism of Nigel Farage, leader of the populist party UKIP, and totally Europhobic. Influenced by this populist wave, Cameron promised a referendum on the EU and loses it, being the Referendum in the English political tradition considered as a “weapon of demagogues and tyrants.”
At the political level, the EU must respond firmly to that, so there is no contagion´ effects to the rest of the EU, especially where the populism is stronger. The presidents of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council must be very resolute in their response to avoid further referenda in Europe about staying in the Union or on particular issues such as Schengen or the Euro. And the UK has to be stressed that it can be no access to the single market for goods and services without the freedom of movement of the people, like any other Member State of the EU.
The 27 Member States must show to London that the output of the EU is not a trivial matter at all, and it has serious consequences. Otherwise the ´domino effect´ could occur in several European countries. The right-wing populist parties in France and the Netherlands have already taken a step forward. The leader of the National Front, Marine Le Pen as the Dutch far-right leader, Geert Wilders, have already expressed support for a Query.
As a result, he UK will have internal problems that might influence over the independence movements again: the majority of Scots voted to stay in Europe last year but the Scottish Chief Minister, Mrs. Sturgeon has already warned that the results could push a new query. And in Northern Ireland, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. McGuinness, already asked to vote for reunification with the Republic of Ireland. Gibraltar could start to look favourably to Spain, because the Brexit might cause an economic blow which will begin with a devaluation of wages and, an end to their comfortable lifestyle across the border, in Spain.
For these reasons and possibly many more, at their next summit, the 27´ Heads of State should demand to the UK to activate Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, in order to initiate the withdrawal from the EU as soon as possible. We Europeans should take the Brexit as a last chance to revive and rebuild an EU faithful to its origins and ideals, and very essential for the future prosperity and freedom in security for the EU´ European citizens.
We must make to understand to European Democrats that there is no alternative to a more integrated and better governed Europe. It is not enough the Security cooperation, but the integrated European executive agencies are crucial; we need a common Defence policy, funded in common by all members. It is also foolish to maintain a common currency without the political integration. The democratic quality needs an empowered Parliament over all subjects and, common European lists to ballots. Europe’s external borders must be protected at European level with an integrated European force, otherwise the Schengen free movement will not work. For the international politics we need a single voice or we will become as irrelevant as despised.
It is still possible to convert the Brexit´ threat into an opportunity towards a more integrated Europe, but the 27 Members´ nigh raid must be tough and with negative consequences for London, in order to prevent further leakage and more populism. The EU needs an exciting plan with a clear roadmap if it wants to maintain its attractiveness worldwide.