Now that the British have voted to leave the European Union, no one can predict what will happen. The exit process does not officially begin until Britain evokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. David Cameron, the present British Prime Minister, has resigned, but his resignation is not scheduled to take place until October, and he has stated that it should not be him who evokes Article 50 but rather his successor. This contradicts his statements before the referendum that he would evoke Article 50 immediately if the British voted to leave the European Union.
Some European Union leaders are impatient to kick the UK out of the Union. Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said David Cameron should formally announce Britain’s intention no later than this coming Tuesday. His opinion will probably have no more effect than Donald Trump’s promises to build a wall on the US/Mexican border.
Another hardliner is the president of the European Union Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, who said that negotiations for Britain’s exit should begin “immediately.” He added, “It’s not an amicable divorce, but it was not exactly tight affair anyway.”
One of the few voices of reason coming from the European continent is that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said there is no need to be nasty, probably referring to Schulz and Juncker without mentioning their names.
Since the referendum, an online petition has been started on the British Parliament website to hold a second referendum. The theory is that many people who voted to leave the EU did not consider the consequences and would now vote to stay. Jenna Ives-Moody, a journalism student at the University of Huddersfield in England wrote “serious fact-based journalism within the U.K. is not valued by the majority of the English population.” (Of course, she could have written that about the present population in the United States, as well.)
I am a dual national, a citizen of both the United States and the United Kingdom, so I have a right to sign the online petition to the British Parliament, and I did so, although I am not confident that a second petition would produce a different result. However, those in favor of a new referendum point out that if Britain leaves the EU, Scotland has threatened to leave Britain and attempt to retain its EU membership. Most of the population in Northern Ireland also voted against leaving the EU. Leaving would be a big setback to the cooperation that has (finally) developed between Northern Ireland and the Ireland Republic, which will stay in the EU.
Those who favor a second referendum believe that now that the British have seen that leaving the European Union could mean a breakup of the United Kingdom, they may have buyers’ remorse and vote differently if give a second opportunity.
Although I qualified to sign the online petition for a new referendum, I will not be able to vote if it is held. Overseas Brits, who have not voted in-country in the past few years, are not permitted to cast an overseas ballot. I was born in the United States, and this is my home. I have no plans to move to Britain to have the right to vote there.
Whatever the outcome, Britain leaves the European Union or not, I hope that Brits will continue to have the right to free travel and residence throughout the European Union. If I enter the European Union on my American passport, the amount of time I am allowed to remain in Europe is limited. Ten years ago I spent a year studying in Grenoble, France, and I had to jump through a lot of paperwork hoops to obtain temporary French residence. If I had had my British passport at the time, I would have had the same right to live in France as and French person.
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