George V. Reilly


When histories of 21st-century Britain are written, the Brexit referendum will un­doubt­ed­bly be prominent. A small majority of Britons voted to do the un­think­able, to secede from the European Union. Xenophobes and racists in coalition with the mar­gin­al­ized and dis­af­fect­ed have delivered a big fuck you to London and to Brussels. Some had cast a protest vote, not believing that Leave would actually win. Remorse im­me­di­ate­ly set in, as the pound has dropped to a thirty-year low, billions in EU funding is set to dry up, and prime minister Cameron has resigned. Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted Remain and now both are making noises about their own in­de­pen­dence from the United Kingdom. Even the Leave side seems not to have expected victory and they are floun­der­ing and back­track­ing on the more pre­pos­ter­ous of their promises.

As a staunch European, like most Irish citizens, I’m appalled at this outcome. There are problems with the EU to be sure, but I doubt this pyrrhic victory will be to most Leave voters’ liking in a few years. The putative savings will not trickle down to the unemployed in Sunderland and Cornwall. Instead, they can look forward to further weakening of worker pro­tec­tions and the social safety net, as Tories are unshackled from European law.

This victory for unreason and xenophobia should make everyone nervous about the US pres­i­den­tial election. Trump is harnessing the same rage. Even if he loses, the dangerous passions that he has stoked will threaten us all.

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