The United Kingdom shocked everyone and made the decision to leave the European Union. With 72.2 percent voter turnout, 51.9 percent chose to leave. England and Wales voted to leave while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. You can see a breakdown of the referendum numbers at the Telegraph.
Acton’s director of international outreach and author of The New Totalitarian Temptation, Todd Huizinga, issued the following statement congratulating the Brits on their decision:
Hats off to the British people and the courage they showed in the Brexit referendum. Despite the fear-mongering and scare tactics of the Remain campaigners and the European Union, the British reclaimed their right to self-government. They have set an example for people all around the world, and especially in the West. With the ongoing erosion of democratic sovereignty occurring in Europe and America, the politicization of the courts and the alarming growth of the administrative state throughout the West, we are called to emulate the strength of conviction of the British and reassert control over those we elect and the bureaucracies that are meant to be accountable to those who represent us.
This is not a time for gloating. The conservative, cautious temperament of the British electorate, as reflected in the Remain vote, is worthy of great respect. There were intelligent people of good will on both sides of the Brexit debate. With all of the complex issues we face and the growing traditionalist-progressive divide, it is necessary to restore greater civility to the public square if we want better to exercise democratically accountable self-government.
What will now happen in the European Union is anyone’s guess. But those who voted for Brexit are not alone in Europe. For a long time, and accelerating since the May 2014 European elections, pro-EU establishment parties throughout the EU have been hemorrhaging support, and anti-EU protest parties have been gaining ground.
Unfortunately, the established elite has yet to draw the real conclusion from this state of affairs: after sixty-five years, the project of European integration has conclusively shown itself to be inherently undemocratic, unaccountable and unresponsive to voters. Europeans want political power transferred back to their national governments, the ones that they vote in and vote out and that are accountable to them, the people they claim to serve. The first “final straw,” that fueled this ongoing political upheaval was the eurozone crisis that resulted from the politically motivated decision to establish a common currency for hugely differing economies. The second final straw was and is the ongoing immigration crisis and all of the disruption it is causing. The third final straw is the terrifying vulnerability of a Europe of open borders to deadly terrorism, as we’ve seen in Brussels and Paris in recent months. And now we have Brexit. How many more final straws can the EU take?
But the EU is unparalleled in its ability to ignore reality and double down on European integration. The European Union and its supporters will do all they can to stay the course, perhaps after a period of retrenchment. Already, the pro-EU think tank German Marshall Fund has posted an article entitled, “With Britain Leaving, Europe Will Need to Quickly Carry On.” Believe it or not, European Council President Donald Tusk had the following comment, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Well, not always, Mr. Tusk. Brexit changes everything. All bets are off.