Devon Dick | Thought we were all Europeans
Last Friday's decision by a majority of United Kingdom voters to exit the European Union has sent shock waves throughout Europe and many parts of the world. It has caused dismay in the financial markets, EU nations, political parties, sports. There is also cultural confusion and an identity crisis so much so that a bewildered Non-Brit interviewee said, 'And I thought we were all Europeans'.
Europeans were, by divine right, set to rule the world with a Pope in the 15th century dividing the world into two between Spain and Portugal - two countries now facing serious economic problems. England wanted a piece of the pie and captured many territories so much so that that island's empire was so vast that the 'sun could not set on the empire'.
The impact will not so much affect the currency because England never gave up her Sterling for Euros. It will not affect UK's participation in the military alliance of NATO or having veto powers in the United Nations Security Council or being a member of the First world club of nations.
The impact will be that 'Britishness' will be seen as distinct from being a European. Britain has gained its independence from Europe and can make all its laws, negotiate its own trade deals and decide on the limit for immigrants from Europe. Britain always felt that English as a language was superior to other languages, so while the typical European would be fluent in three or more languages most Brits would believe it not necessary to know more than English. English was the international language of communication and commerce. And Britain was the financial hub for Europe. That might change because the Europeans feel rejected and scorned. Although, Britain would like, after the divorce, to remain as friends with benefits, it is hardly likely that the divorced ones will want Britain, having given up the responsibilities, to continue enjoying the privileges.
Increased calls for independence
There will be increased calls for independence worldwide. Not within the EU but more so in the British dependent states. Britain, from the 17th century onwards, colonised the West Indies, India, parts of the Middle East capturing and conquering people but paradoxically does not want immigrants from Europe to have free and unlimited access to their borders, jobs and market. It is going to be untenable for Britain to hold on to the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, and the other dependent states elsewhere. Since Britain wants independence for itself then equally they should want independence for these dependent states too.
The idea of a referendum is to allow people to decide their fate and not just the elites of Parliament. The monarchy is an undemocratic institution because no one votes for king or queen. Will it be the next to go? The Commonwealth arrangement is safe because the Queen is first among equals by convention and not by vote. In the EU, Britain was one among many but Britannia still ruled the Commonwealth of nations.
It always appeared as an anomaly that Britain, with the support of Caribbean colonised people, fought against the aggressive Germany under the dictator Adolf Hitler in World War II and now the Germans, former foes, have free access to Britain while the peoples of Caribbean nations, helpful friends, have to obtain a visa to visit and work in Britain.
It is arrogant of the David Cameron administration not to have had plans ready to be effected on getting the result of the referendum, that is, to leave the EU. They should have had plans for either result. The uncertainty and delay is going to cause confusion and instability. What is needed is quick, decisive action with the understanding that Britons will never be seen again as Europeans.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.