Goodbye Lenin and the EU Referendum

Waking up to the results of the EU Referendum, has been like waking up in the German Democratic Republic and finding the Berlin Wall has come down. It’s like looking through a mangled mess of concrete and iron, where everything that has been familiar, has now been taken away. 

On the surface everything is normal, as it appeared when the Soviet Union disbanded in the 1990's. The traffic still rolls, people need to work and items remain available to buy in shops. The civil service still functions, children still go to school and opinions remain divided on this very public vote.

The EU Referendum was by no means small and throughout the night, as votes were announced, millions of people have since woken up to find there has been regime change. This change has caused the Prime Minister to announce his resignation, has thrown the financial markets into question and has equally left people questioning their future. 

England and Wales voted to Brexit, while Gibraltar, Scotland and Northern Ireland have each voted to Remain. For the first time in years, people are now discussing the reintroduction of national borders and the possibility of independence referendums, as a blow-back from the result. 

Despite reassurances from Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon - that all EU citizens are welcome - there is a tangible unease among British based Europeans and among people from EU member Southern Ireland. 

There is also questioning to the future of British residents within Europe and what their status will be, once the UK has formally left the EU. As the Brexit vote has triggered the re-definition of Britain’s relationship with it’s European neighbours, there are now questions relating to the physical movement of people, goods and services having to be legally re-drawn. 

People will have to face the possibility, where from a system of simply being able to enter an EU country for work or leisure, people will now have to wait in line for a visa and face the possibility of acceptance to a country, or even face rejection. 

At the same time, businesses and those who trade online, may equally have to confront the reality of having to increase the price of products, to afford new import and export charges that will have to be introduced, so that Britain can survive in a 21st century and globalised economy. 

This is Britain’s Year Zero, where as a nation it’s having to take full responsibility for its actions and can no longer blame Europeans, for the decisions Britain's Parliament makes. Britain will now have to look at its diplomatic relationships for trade, while investing in infrastructure, language skills and providing credible trading skills, for people of all age groups. 

Despite claims by the Brexit camp, that the EU Referendum marks Britain’s "Independence Day", there is the danger of it becoming a disaster for Britain. What will the future of the UK look like, if reclaiming the country’s “sovereignty” back from the EU, leaves the United Kingdom drifting in waters as an isolated and divided island? 

Hussein Al-alak is the editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra). 

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