Regardless of what happens, nationalist feeling has been revealed to be far stronger than pan-European feeling, which is, at most, a very pale ghost.
There has been a great deal of negativity directed at the idea of a British exit from the European Union. The campaign against Brexit headed by Prime Minister David Cameron, in conjunction with the Labour Party leader and the chief Liberal Democrats serving in Parliament, has been dominated by dire warnings of falling living standards and economic calamity at home, to predictions of greater instability and even war in Europe, should the United Kingdom leave the EU. The dire forebodings have been echoed by many international figures, including President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as by officials of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and scores of multinational companies.
The likelihood of these outcomes, however, is not great. Brexit should be viewed as a tremendous opportunity by the British people, as well as by Americans. And in Europe, it should unleash positive changes that will advance greater economic freedom and competition. The European Union has become a supra-national monstrosity, a monument to big government, high taxes, overregulation, and unaccountable bureaucracy. It is increasingly unpopular with publics across Europe, including Germany, Spain, and France, and has become a symbol of economic decline, unsustainable public debts, and a fundamentally antidemocratic mindset. Add to this a refugee crisis that will only accelerate in the coming years—even if the status quo were to remain in place—with EU leaders scrambling to deal with unprecedented numbers of migrants in the face of intense opposition from many nation states.
Brexit is important on many levels. It is an opportunity for Great Britain to once again be a truly free nation, disburdened of the weight of an artificially united Europe which has never been loved by the British people. It will return full sovereignty to Britain’s Parliament and its courts, will enable Britain to control its own borders, and save British taxpayers at least £10 billion a year in repatriated funds. The UK will be able to negotiate its own trade deals for the first time in over 40 years, and can finally liberate its economy from a vast array of EU regulations. Brexit will be a bonfire of red tape, and a huge boost to economic liberty in the UK.
As for the “special relationship” that has long existed between the United Kingdom and the United States, far from being weakened, the Anglo-American bond—the most important political partnership in the world—would be reinvigorated by Brexit, with a bilateral free trade deal its centerpiece. Barack Obama has warned that Britain would be at the “back of the queue” for such a deal, but this is an empty threat from a President who will be out of office in a few months. A resurgent Britain will be better placed to work alongside the United States in combating Islamist terrorism, and an increasingly aggressive Russia. Brexit will make Britain a nation that once again looks beyond the horizons of Europe, and returns to being a truly outward-looking global, free-trading power.
At the end of the day, Brexit is about sovereignty, self-determination, democratic accountability, and economic freedom. These are the same principles, concepts. and ideals that Americans cherish dearly. The British people deserve the same.