Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed the British detective series River. Heather reviewed an alternate history paranormal where the British efforts in WWI were helped by a squad of Ghost Talkers who retrieved war intelligence from recently killed soldiers. Jackie shared photos from Killarney in Ireland. Georgie Lee shared the over 300 -year-old wine shop in London that she used to inspire a setting in her novel-writing. Becky reviewed Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien and described her favorite British children’s shows. Sim took us to London’s Chinatown with a quick peek into the colorful M&Ms store. Jean reviewed Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman in advance of her trip to London.
Brexit: (n) combination of “British” and “Exit,” a referendum next Thursday on whether or not the UK should continue to be part of the European Union. UK voters will have the ballot choice to Leave or Remain in the European Union.
The Washington Post put together this video to help Americans understand what’s going on, with the pros and cons, and the potential effect on the US:
There’s a certain romance with the Leave vote, a Great Britain that stands strong and alone. Leave advocates believe that Britain’s economy will be stronger, in the long-run, with home-grown regulation. There’s also an anti-immigrant element, occasionally ugly, to it. In good economic times, the UK (like the US and all aging, low-birth-rate countries) needs immigrant labor in order to have enough workers to contribute to the economy and care for the elderly. The Brexit vote gained energy because in poor economic times, including the continued aftermath of the 2008 crisis, the migrant workforce gets blamed for any up-tick in unemployment and for stagnant wages.
The Remain vote is mostly about having no clear picture about how, exactly, a Brexit would play out structurally and what impact that would have on the UK and world economy. The world stock markets are jittery this week because of this upcoming vote, so it’s not just the UK that has to deal with the massive uncertainty. At a minimum, trade deals will need to be renegotiated between the UK and all other countries. It’s not at all clear what happens in the interim. At a maximum, a Brexit might be the first pulled stitch in an unraveling of the European Union, multiplying the complexity.
Most US officials and companies prefer the status quo but, of course, it’s pretty much always true that officialdom and business prefers the known over the unknown.
This reminds me of the referendum about Scottish independence that happened while we were visiting England in September 2014. I did some research in advance of our trip. We watched, from our hotel in Birmingham, the BBC coverage of the vote that turned out not to be quite as close as everyone had predicted — 55% in favor of staying, 45% in favor of independence. Depending on your point of view, practicality won over romance or fear won over boldness.
Sadly, as I was researching and writing this post, the news broke that Jo Cox, a 41-year-old Member of Parliament, was shot and stabbed by an attacker. Later, she died. According to the BBC, both the Leave and Remain campaigns suspended their activities while the British population absorbs this horrific story. She was a member of the Labour Party. The leadership of Labour, including Jo Cox, supports the Remain side, but many of its members are leaning toward Leave. As I write this, it’s unclear what the motive of the killer was.
Are you paying attention to the Brexit vote? Do you feel that you know enough to have an opinion?