“We have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not combined. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed. If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea.”
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few months, it’s likely that you’ve heard the buzz and gossip surrounding the British Exit, affectionately known as the “Brexit.” In its simplest form, the Brexit is a political decision by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union. Many questions have surrounded this issue. The most common question being: What is going to happen to the United Kingdom?
News sources that covered this issue have attempted to find the answer to this question in economics, finances, and every other possible international relation. Each article consists of the same daunting message: The UK has made a horrible mistake that they absolutely will not be able to recover from. While there is some reason to worry regarding these aspects, I believe that we can find a much better and truer answer to this controversial question within the vaults of history.
Our story begins in 1707 when the Act of Union formed an inseparable bond between the countries of England — which at the time controlled Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland would join the party in 1800 and encompass what the modern world calls the United Kingdom. It is one of the oldest unions in history, but its formation and existence has been far from easy. In fact, 1707 was not the UK’s first attempt at friendship. Coming off the coattails of Mary, Queen of Scots’ attempt to steal the English throne, her son James VI knew that the two countries could no longer solemnly stand on their own. Upon his ascension to the throne, he devised a plan of negotiation between the English and Scottish Parliaments.
King James failed to factor in England and Scotland’s subtle hate for each other, so needless to say, the king’s orders for negotiation were quickly and abruptly swept under the rug, never to be spoken of for some time. It wasn’t until the conclusion of the English Civil War that forming a union become a subject of debate again. Even still, the Glorious Revolution had to occur before the two countries agreed to tie the knot. It has been a relationship similar to that of siblings ever since. The two countries can’t live with each other, but they certainly wouldn’t dream of living without each other, at least until recent years.
I tell the story of the United Kingdom’s formation simply to exemplify the chemistry and history this union possesses in comparison to the union the UK shares with the EU. The European Union was formed shortly after the end of WWII in an attempt to extinguish the prevalence of nationalism, which had so effectively devastated the continent. The EU eventually grew to include almost every European nation, and today it regulates various international relations amongst these countries. The EU could be considered a fraternity of sorts: a political promise to never let pride and greed lead to war and destruction. However, no matter how deep the bond of brotherhood runs, struggle and strife is bound to cause cracks in the foundation of any society. It’s only a matter of time before the hourglass runs out and the sun sets on a truly monumental era.
I don’t want to speculate or state my opinion about whether or not the United Kingdom was right or wrong for leaving the EU. News reporters all across the globe are speculating enough for us all. However, I do want to express my faith in the UK as a union. I’ve had the opportunity to be traveling in the UK while some very important political changes are being made. From the news reports I read before leaving, I expected to come to the UK and see a nation in complete and utter shambles, but that’s not what I found at all. In fact, I found a nation that is strong and confident in its decision, despite the unfortunate drop of the pound and some other unfortunate events. Even the people who did not vote to leave the EU convey an air of excitement and intrigue toward the years to come for their country. A great nation like the UK cannot stand without the love and support of its people, and it does not seem like the Brits will be turning against their homeland anytime soon. Only time will decide the fate of the UK, but I truly believe that whatever happens, the UK will find a way to succeed in their own classic British way.
So for now, peace out, EU. The United Kingdom bids you adieu.