TORONTO, CANADA. FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2016. 12:30 AM. Both ITV and the BBC have now called the Brexit referendum for the Leave the European Union side, with approximately 52% of interested United Kingdom citizens voting Leave and 48% voting Remain.
This is a great surprise for a great many people, and I am certainly one of them. The larger world, in the UK, Europe, and everywhere else seemed to have concluded that the Remain side would finally win, even if the vote was very close. Just what will unfold now in the government and politics of the United Kingdom and its neighbours is vague at best.
Some say David Cameron cannot survive as prime minister. He has made clear that he just doesn’t believe in the side that won. Others who are apparently on the side that won say Cameron is the best person to take up the reins on their agenda. (And somewhere lurking in the wings is Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London.)
There seems a rather clear geography to the result as well — which may add a few further complications. Broadly, London, Scotland, and (to a somewhat lesser degree) Northern Ireland voted Remain. The English and Welsh countryside and even urban areas like Birmingham voted Leave (while “Manchester votes less strongly than expected for remain”).
The theory that London is the only part of at least England and Wales that has profited from the economic policies the UK has largely followed ever since Margaret Thatcher may be reflected in this Brexit vote. It is apparently the old urban working class as well as the countryside that has rebelled against the Euro-bound politicians in both the Conservative and Labour parties.
It seems likely enough that there will be some initial distress on especially anglophone financial markets in the wake of what just may prove a more important decision than most of the outside world was expecting. But just how much serious and widespread economic grief may result outside the United Kingdom is just one of many intriguing questions about to be answered.
Here, in a city once called “the citadel of British sentiment in America,” we are bound to wonder just what this largely unexpected big bump in the future of the old island heartland of the global British empire may mean for us.
That too would appear to be one more thing that needs to be discovered. What does suddenly seem clear is that something is going to change in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. The global village is less certain than it seemed to be yesterday. And that may even do places like Canada some good. (Though what it may or may not mean for the fate of Donald Trump in the United States is another matter altogether.)