Urmas Paet: "Brexit" could break apart Great Britain itself (4)

Estonian MEP Urmas Paet (Reform Party). (Siim Lõvi/ERR)
Urmas Paet, MEP
3/3/2016 12:28 PM
Category: Opinion

On June 23rd, the British will hopefully be voting with a small but sure majority to remain a part of the EU, though unfortunately we cannot be sure of that. People's uncertainty in the face of big changes will end up being a deciding factor, the results of which are impossible to foresee, wrote Urmas Paet, former minister of foreign affairs and current member of the European Parliament (ALDE).

This is said in regards to the portion of the electorate that has yet to decide on its stance and will likely make this decision at the last second. This part of the electorate often becomes crucial, however, in polarizing questions and questions of principle where neither side has a clear advantage of the other.

The situation that Great Britain and the whole of the EU with it has found itself in is the perfect example of what happens when the majority of political leaders have begun bending to the sway of public opinion rather than trying to clarify their principles in society. This is exactly what has happened in Great Britain, where newcomers primarily from certain Central and Eastern European countries, who have arrived there as a result of workforce migration being unrestricted within the EU, have becoming increasingly disruptive to locals, and the resulting populistic mess has forced all leading political forces to promise to organize a referendum regarding Great Britain's possible departure from the EU.

Great Britain is already the country most loosely affiliated with the EU. It is not part of the Schengen area, nor does it belong to the eurozone. It has clearly not been spared from the threat of terrorism or economic concerns.

Recently formalized British and other EU agreements give British Prime Minister David Cameron an excuse to publicly support choosing in the referendum to stay in the EU, but the influence of the EU-British agreement on public opinion has been rather limited. The United States' explicit support of Great Britain's remaining in the EU as well as general insecurity about the future will both end up being more influential. There cannot be answers to questions regarding how Great Britain will deal with with security issues, opportunities for economic growth, and other such important issues outside of the EU. In the case of majority support for exiting the union, Great Britain itself risks collapse—Scotland would quickly organize another referendum on independence, and support for remaining in the EU prevails in that part of Great Britain.

In any case, the "Brexit", or the referendum which has sprung up unmanaged as a result of the state's internal politics, has become a big problem for the whole of the EU. There are other countries within the EU where opposition to the union has grown during recent troubling times, and the Great Britain example has served as an inspiration for them. In the Netherlands, for example, a referendum is being organized regarding the ratification of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement. The Netherlands has essentially nothing to do whatsoever with the agreement itself. Rather, the referendum is a means of expressing discontent with the EU.

We in Estonia should really cross our fingers that the British referendum will not provoke a domino effect that would weaken the whole of Europe. The British will be deciding for themselves whether or not they will remain a part of the EU—but we hope that they will stay.

Edited: Aili Sarapik

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