The United Kingdom leaving the European Union has created far-reaching ripples when dealing with a vote by more than 17-million people to leave a union of 28 nations.
The exiting of the United Kingdom from the European Union - or Brexit as it is known as - is a deceptively large political and economic issue.
The EU operates on the idea of variable geometry. Countries in the EU are able to select a level of integration that they are comfortable with.
“The question that naturally comes from a union like this is: ‘Are we losing national sovereignty?’” says Abiye Alamina, economics lecturer for the University. “The whole idea is that we want greater trade and labor flows across countries, but still retain individual country sovereignty.”
A strong representation of this idea is the Euro, a currency designed by the European Central Bank with the hope that everyone would adopt it. As it stands now not all countries in the EU use the Euro. While 28 countries are members, only 19 use the Euro. This is known as the Eurozone.
Britain declined to join the Eurozone at its conception and instead stay with the Bank of England and the pound.
Alamina said even though the Euro is not being imposed, the vision of a single currency does not play well with the economic sovereignty of the UK.
“The problem is that the EU resolutions are becoming increasingly dominant. So there’s this nationalistic feeling that ‘Hey, you’re making decision over in Brussels that are not in our interest and we don’t have any say in that.’”
This sovereignty issue is not just an economic issue though. “While the EU has these economic issues, you cannot have more economic integration without brushing up against political issues.”
Dr. Neal Jesse, a political science professor specializing in Britain politics, reinforced the point that the EU, at its heart, is an economic union.
“It was established to facilitate the free movement of goods, services, labor and capital. Most of the political aspect are recent as of the Treaty of the European Union,” he said.
The Treaty of the European Union officially started in 1993, and is currently 28 members in total until the United Kingdom takes its official leave.
The official leave is a long ways off, Jesse said. The idea of parliamentary sovereignty rendered the referendum to leave as non-binding. Though it is unlikely that the UK will stay given the high number of votes to leave he added.
“There are literally a thousand steps involved in this,” Jesse said. “They have to unravel all the agreements and treaties that the UK is party to by being inside the the union.”
He also mentioned 23 years worth of individual unions, customs, trade, labor, and so on, that the UK is involved in.
“You can’t just say ‘Look, you are no longer in the single market.’ There are still British workers in Europe. Do they get to stay? These are all going to be part of not a single agreement, but multiple ones,” Jesse said.
The unraveling will also occur in the UK itself, such as the fate of British soccer players in the English Premier League. Under the EU they have no visa restrictions. After the split, two-thirds of the athletes will have to leave because of visa issues.
Jesse mentions a large issue in the form of the European Defence Force. An agreement between France and the United Kingdom made in 1998 laid out plans for the future of the defence force. Now with Brexit, the plans fall on shifting sands.
These ripples are not going completely unnoticed though. Nationalists inside France, Austria, Sweden, Greece, Italy, are all calling for their own exit, some of them for a while, explained Jesse. Sensing weakness in the European Union they may try to work something out for themselves.
Sentiments inside Britain are just as mixed. The Conservative and Labour parties both are split on the issue. Conservative bankers and labourers see the EU policies as beneficial want to stay, while conservative nationalists and labourers see harm in the union’s policies want out.
“It is this kind of split in party ideals that opens the door for interesting political dealings. One of the most notable being a strong Nationalist Party which Britain has not seen in close to a century.” said Jesse.
Alamnia explains that the uncertainty in the market could cause a contraction in the UK. That contraction may lead back to the Eurozone and in turn move over to America.
Jesse mentioned the Defence Force falling apart could lead to a larger NATO force in Europe which would mean more American troops.
“The United States has long thought of Britain as its stable force in Europe, but now they are the ones that throw this big rock through the window,” Jesse said.
Both Jesse and Alamina stressed that all of this is dependent on the dealings that will take place over the next two years.
“If the UK is able to negotiate a good deal, other nations might look at it and think that they too are better off outside the EU,” Alamina said.
When all things are considered, there is too much uncertainty surrounding Brexit to make heads or tails of how it will affect the UK, let alone the world.
Jesse said there is only one thing certain in all of this.
“There’s going to be a lot of public administrators putting in a long few years trying to work this out,” he said.