The European Union is an organization of European countries that work together with the hope of one day establishing common foreign, security, economic and justice policies. Being part of the EU also means that borders are open between EU countries, meaning that someone doesn’t need a passport to travel from one EU country to another. It also means that a citizen of an EU country can live, work and retire nearly anywhere in Europe. EU countries work together to fight crime and terrorism inside a single country’s borders and the regulations that have been put in place include transparency regulations on sellers. With all of these benefits, it’s not hard to wonder why anyone would want to leave this kind of organization.
Unfortunately, the UK voted to do just that a couple of weeks ago. This British exit, or Brexit, is effectively screwing themselves – and many other European countries – over. Within 24 hours of the polls closing, the pound’s value went down to the lowest it has been since 1985 and many countries who have relied on the money Britain sends to the EU for certain essential programs as well as their support in terrorism and crime will need to find other ways to solve these problems.
All of this may seem pretty awful but it’s not as awful as the reasons the leave campaign put out for leaving the EU. One of the popular reasons seemed to be relating to immigration. The leave voters want Britain to close its borders to immigrants because they believe they will reap the benefits of living in the UK without much work and will take the jobs of the citizens of Britain who already live there.
This idea is extremely preposterous and has been brought up by many people many times before being disproven again and again. Immigrants do not take the jobs of the current residents of a country. Studies show that most immigrants are more likely to open up a small business rather than join an already existing one, which creates jobs rather than taking them away, but the ones that do begin to work for an already existing company don’t take other people’s jobs either. The only reason my family ever moved to another country was because the company my dad was working for at the time wanted to move him there. There was no job opening that my dad interviewed for, the company simply asked him to take up that position, the position was never open to other people in the first place.
Another reason many people voted leave was because they didn’t think their vote counted and thought the UK was just going to stay anyway. Voting systems in the UK, however, are much more straightforward than in America. Simply put, everyone’s vote counts. There are no electoral colleges, no confusing divisions of voting regions and no weird rules that should have been removed sometime in the 20th century. All I had to do to learn that was open my computer and go to the British Parliament’s official website, which makes one wonder how a citizen of Britain doesn’t know that their vote counts and they should vote for what they want to happen.
Speaking of being uninformed, the news channels covering Brexit were reeling the next morning when it became clear that the most Google searches in Britain after the polls closed comprised of questions about what the European Union is and what it means to leave the EU. Even though it will take at least two years for the UK to officially leave, the fact that they have chosen to do so without knowing what it means is mind boggling. I thought Americans weren’t informed about politics but this makes us look smarter than Britain. Of course, that does not include Donald Trump, who praised Scotland for voting to leave when that part of the UK actually voted overwhelmingly to stay.
Either way one looks at the outcome of Brexit, the reason the UK is leaving the EU at all could be blamed on more than half of the country being misinformed about immigrants, whether their votes will count or not, what the EU even is and what it means to leave the EU. In this day and age, the information can be found simply by tying on a keyboard and clicking the computer mouse and the consequences of not doing so could mean some hard years ahead for both Britain and the countries still in the EU who relied in part on Britain’s support. Voters should be informed.