In a move that may pose serious problems for Israel, Britain voted on Thursday to become the first country to leave the European Union (EU) in its 60 year history, leading to serious repercussions in politics and finance. In the wake of the ballot results, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to resign.
Brexit, a shortened name for ‘Britain Exit, passed with 51.8 percent of the vote, with 72% of the voters turning out to cast a ballot on the hotly debated issue. Emotions have run amok as Jo Cox, a Labour Party politician and mother of two, was stabbed and shot to death last week while campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU.
The British sterling plummeted to $1.3466, its lowest since 1985, and the Euro also dropped three percent. Investors turned to precious metals and the Yen to offset their losses. The British stock market has not yet opened for Friday, but it is predicted to drop about 8 percent, the third biggest drop in history. Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, hinted that he would consider suspending trading. The Bank of England said it would take all necessary steps to secure monetary and financial stability.
The move to leave the EU has already led to major changes in British politics. Prime Minister David Cameron, who strongly advocated remaining part of the EU, announced his intention to resign.
“I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union. And I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone, not the future of any single politician, including myself.
“But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.
“I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months. But I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.
The issue has divided the country and may divide it even more. Scotland voted 62 percent in favor of staying in the EU. In 2014, 44 percent of the Scottish people voted to be independent from Britain.. It is feared that the volatile Brexit issue could lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom, which is made up of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
Revoking one of the greatest advantages of being an EU member, free movement across Europe, will affect 1.2 million British citizens living in other EU countries, as well as the 3 million foreign citizens living in Britain. Depending on the outcome of negotiations, this situation could change.
With security concerns rising in Europe over recent attacks, PM Cameron warned that the world would be a less safe place if Britain left the EU. Philip Hammond, the British Foreign Secretary, has called for talks with Britain’s former EU partners to continue collaborating on security issues.
“I don’t want to overstate the case but I do think Britain has been a very positive influence in Europe on the security agenda. I do worry with Britain now having a hugely diminished voice we will see that resolve from our European partners waning.”
The vote is not official notification to the EU, covered under Article 50 of the EU treaty. Official notice is expected to be given at an EU summit on June 28, though the British government could choose to delay giving notice. They will then have two years to negotiate a new treaty with the EU. The treaty will cover a wide range of issues including trade, tariffs, migration, and regulation of products.
The EU was established in 1957. British applications to join were vetoed by France in 1963 and again in 1967. Britain officially joined the EU in 1973. In 2012, Prime Minister Cameron rejected calls for a referendum on the UK’s EU membership, but suggested the possibility of a future referendum to gauge public support.