Breaking Brexit


Image by Georgia Moore

Liberals who assumed the United States and England were moving forward politically with them are stunned at the most recent decisions in their countries.

“I’m not a [US] citizen yet,” Ben Wright, a British member of staff at the University of Texas at Austin, said. “I actually decided on Wednesday to pull my application. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the pledge of allegiance anyway and the whole oath, and the fact that it would be Donald Trump on the wall of the DMV when I went in to do it… I just think I’m going to keep my options open.”

Keeping his options open, but feeling lost. Wright recently checked out emotionally from Britain (his home country) because of the majority vote for Brexit.

“I think refugees and homeless people go through problems that I will never go through,” Wright said. “But I do feel sort of politically, culturally homeless; sort of displaced in between my homeland, which is going bonkers politically, and here which is going bonkers politically. So I can’t imagine what other refugees, who have faced crazy populace in their home countries feel… They come here, and look who get’s elected. That’s rough.”

The votes for Brexit and President – Elect Donald Trump were two very different elections, and seemingly different issues – but the outcomes could have been influenced by the same ideas.

“It shows the same sort of ability of angry, disenfranchised people to come out of the woodwork,” Wright said. “Everyone talks about how the rural American way of life is in trouble, and it’s slipping away- so is the black way of life, so is the hispanic way of life- and they don’t all go nihilistic and racist on us. So, there’s something else going on too, which is racism. There is no economic excuse for it. I think that’s the same case in England as well; [The economy] is context, not an excuse.”

History teacher Ms. Pamela Mathai says that a large similarity between the voters for Brexit and the voters for the winner of the U.S. Presidential Election is that they used the economy as an “excuse” for their decisions.

“We live in a time period where we like to think that racism is something of the past, and sexism against women is no longer an issue,” Ms. Mathai said. “But I think Brexit made it really clear that there was a lot of islamophobia, and a lot of fear of syrian refugees, and migrant communities coming into England, and disrupting the communities, or what they see as disrupting the communities that are already there.”

Britain and the United States are characteristically more left than right in politics, economics, and social aspects. However, both countries have made largely conservative decisions within the past year: Electing Donald Trump for the President of the United States, and Britain choosing to exit from the European Union.

“The reality is, and this is how it’s been historically, throughout our nation and in other countries historically: When the economy is in crisis or when people are feeling left out of the economy, one way to redirect anger [instead of directing anger at the economy itself or at the people in power], is people use race as a way to blame problems and shift anger and anxiety onto people who are different than us and blame them for our economic problems,” Ms. Mathai said. “Instead of looking at: How is our system flawed? How are the people in power not making good decision for us? I think those things are very connected.”

According to Wright, perhaps it is good that Trump was elected now so that we are forced to address the racism that drove these decisions. He says that we now have to pay attention to the people who are voting for Donald Trump and Brexit, or else it’s going to bite us in the butt.

“There was a lot of reporting before Brexit happened around similarities between people who supported Brexit and people who supported Donald Trump,” history teacher Mathai said. “And I don’t think that that’s an accident.”

However, Eleanor Bailey (11) argues a different point, saying that these two decisions were driven by separate agendas.

“I think that the election of Donald Trump is worse,” Bailey said. “It not only involves the politics and the economics, it also involves the social aspect… Brexit was mostly an economic issue, in my opinion.”

Our election was also worse in Bailey’s opinion because of the effects it will have on the youth of America.

“Donald Trump being elected president means that hateful comments like the ones he’s made are now being seen as okay by the youth of America, who don’t really understand what it means to say those things,” Bailey said. “All they know is that if the president can say those things, why can’t I? That’s to me is the scariest part of this whole thing. Not his policies, none of that, just the fact that a man who says these things is the most powerful person in our country.”

Perhaps we did break Brexit, seeing that according to Bailey, our election has much more at stake than the economy. If Brexit does get approved by the congress of Britain, however, it is much more permanent.

“Which is good news for America because it’s only over four years,” Wright said. “But for Britain this could be graver because once you’re out [of the European Union], you’re out. It’s like selling a house in Austin, you’re never gonna get back in.”

There is the permanent aspect of Brexit, the lasting social impact of the U.S. Presidential Election, the racist and economical impacts of both, and most importantly the political technicalities of both. Depending on where a person is from or where their priorities lie now, anyone can decide for themselves whether or not they approve of these country wide decisions- and if they don’t approve of them, they can decide which one breaks the other.