Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Some Britons lost on what the EU represents

Published:Monday | June 27, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The recent referendum in United Kingdom proves the point that referenda don't always work. The vote, split almost evenly and varying by geographical region and age, declared that most persons favoured leaving the European Union (EU).

The results shocked many. Didn't we always hear that unity is strength? There have been reports that many who voted to exit thought they would've been outnumbered by the votes to remain and didn't think their vote would matter, while others we've heard of didn't fully understand the issues and consequences.

It was reported that after the vote, there was a dramatic surge in Google search among Britons who started to research the EU, trying to understand more about the Union, what it represents and the benefits to its 28-member states.

The EU is a political union with standardised laws which applies to member countries, affecting the free movement of people, goods, services and capital. The Union also enacts legislation affecting justice, home affairs and trade policies.

The EU has diplomatic representation in many countries and is also represented as a group at the United Nations. Member countries of the EU have a combined population of 500 million.


For sure, there are problems in some areas, especially with border control, immigration and national security, and this is a concern in an era of global terrorism.

I believe these could be effectively dealt with by the group. It is difficult to understand how one can argue that a union representing a broad region could also be a threat to one's sovereignty and development. The world has revolved around unions and international bodies for a long time, ensuring there is collective agreement and standards with policy, laws and practice.

Now that the UK voted out of the EU, it's only a matter of time to see the effects. The consequences could be enormous, affecting not only Britain but other countries, including the Caribbean.

We have already seen the sudden fall of the British currency the pound sterling - and the Dow index immediately after the vote. Lower stock markets in Europe and other places will negatively affect consumer spending if there is uncertainty.


Currency devaluation will reduce value in personal wealth, which will also affect spending. Companies may delay new investment projects, and some may re-evaluate UK as a market. Banks could change how they operate. London being Europe's financial centre, there could also be capital flight, causing a domino effect on multiple economies. Other areas affected will include immigration and travel.

This is why people should never be allowed to vote on serious issues with long-lasting effects, as too often they do so based on fear, emotions and whim and without all the right information.

I believe referenda could be used for minor issues at the local level, not national issues with serious permanent consequences. We elect parliamentarians to represent us. They come from all walks of life, and for the most part are usually well-educated and knowledgeable about global affairs and issues, law, trade, economics and politics.

They can usually gauge public opinion, but as elected officials they can also use their best judgement based on the facts debated from all sides. Many persons voting to leave EU just weren't smart enough. Many voted on emotions and impulse, while others caved in to scaremongering.

P. Chin