IN THE MEDIA: Brexit and the UK’s “Most Important Election in a Generation”

Britain made a choice that defines the next decade. The evergreen issue? Brexit! Here is what you need to know.

Photo by Jannes Van den wouwer on Unsplash
Photo by Jannes Van den wouwer on Unsplash

Photo: Jannes Van den Wouwer on Unsplash

After much to and fro, the British elected a new House of Commons. Boris Johnson now has the majority he needs to push through Brexit on his terms. That means: under the conditions already negotiated with the EU (BBC summarized the hell out of it, so we don’t have to).

So, what does the Tories’ landslide victory mean? And what lies ahead? The Guardian answers urgent questions in the aftermath of the election. For those who lost track in recent months, let’s answer some more and maybe even more important questions around Brexit.

1. How did it actually get to the point where the British want to leave the EU?

Just two days after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, social scientist Alexander Betts delivered a stirring, thoughtful and eloquent presentation on Brexit and the future of globalization at the 2016 TED Summit, where his ideas received a rousing standing ovation. We have a summary of it, but see for yourself (and then: take a closer look at questions 4, 5 and 6):

2. What is going to happen, now that Brexit actually happens?

Will living costs rise? Will there be more money for the health system, education and investment in the UK market? Will the country lose qualified, much-needed workers? In Brexit without the Bullshit, journalist and broadcaster Gavin Esler offers a disconcerting examination of the real effects Brexit will have on Britain’s economy, culture and society. One of the biggest problems in recent months and years was uncertainty, and it was poison for some parts of the economy. The climate could brighten now that it is clear where the journey is heading. Some uncertainty remains, though. So, it’s still useful to stick to the advice of Martin Reeves and Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak – not only if you are CEO of a large company.

3. Can it still come to a “No-Deal-Brexit” (as the Brexit party demands)?

Not likely. The British electorate has spoken out quite clearly against it. Maybe Britain finally acknowledged: A No-Deal-Brexit is no good, like Guntram B. Wolff said. It would have been terrible, Ian Dunt corrected. And Kitty Stuart added: Especially for men!

4. Did Immigration Politics cause Brexit?

Among other things (see 5. and 6., too): Yes, as Jeremy Grantham argues. He quotes research that shows social cohesion as the necessary component for societal peace and contentment. Yet growing income inequality and unfettered immigration can erode that cohesion.

5. Did Austerity Politics cause Brexit?

Among other things: Yes, as economist Thiemo Fetzer concludes in this original and broad-based research. He finds that populism in the United Kingdom, fomented by austerity cuts to social programs, boiled over into dissent significant enough to inflict long-lasting political and economic disruption. But, as Dominic Cummings, head of the “Vote Leave”-campaign admits: if the opposition had been a little less smug, disorganized and out of touch with the working-class voter, Brexit would have lost as expected in the first place.

6. What else caused Brexit?

Certainly, social media played a vital role in this unexpected outcome. In their analysis, researchers Philip N. Howard and Bence Kollanyi discuss the prevalence of “political bots” that produced Brexit-related content on Twitter between June 5 and June 12, 2016. They provide evidence for the rise in political bots on Twitter during periods of political strife. And when journalist Carole Cadwalladr investigated the weight of social media interference in the elections, she discovered an intricate web of deceit and criminal activity that is still unraveling. She believes that the age of fair and free elections is over. The stage is yours, Carole!

6. Who benefits from Brexit?

The next months and years will tell. Clear is: Brexit offers some opportunities for Private Equity and already enriched some Hedge Funds. And, of course, it made Nigel Farage famous overnight.

7. What happens to Europe (or, more precise: the EU) after the Brexit?

Well, there are plenty of ideas (and perhaps, in view of the election results within the United Kingdom, the question of Britain’s common future should be asked instead). But doesn’t the idea of a new “continental partnership” that would enable continued economic and political collaboration, albeit with concessions from both sides of the channel, sound good?


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December, 12 2019 — Update: February, 5 2020