Tomorrow Britons will finally answer the question posed by The Clash in 1981, just a few years after the U.K. joined the European Union: Should I stay or should I go? I’m sure I will not be the only one with that song running through my head as the referendum ballots are counted..
The latest polls show a slight majority leaning towards what they are calling Brexit, the exit of Great Britain from the EU. The world (and especially Europe) is watching to see what the outcome will be.
I must admit I haven’t followed the debate closely since I am neither British nor European. I am not a huge fan of the EU, but I am also risk averse and change resistant, so if I had a vote I’d probably choose the status quo.
I suspect that most Britons have little to no emotional ties to the EU. It’s a marriage of convenience, not a love match. The British continued to use their own currency when most of Europe switched to the Euro. But I wonder if that lack of emotional ties will sway enough people to file for divorce. After 43 years the EU may not be exciting, but it is comfortable.
From the little I have read, it seems there was a fair amount of misrepresentation taking place on both sides of the campaign. Probably most people saw through that propaganda and will make an informed and reasoned choice tomorrow.
As I read that last sentence over, I have to ask myself: Who do I think I’m kidding? If people cast their ballot based on informed and reasoned consideration, then Donald Trump would have never had a chance at the US presidency, and Stephen Harper would still be Prime Minister of Canada. I guess voters can’t always be trusted to look out for their best interests.
The whole situation should never have happened of course. Politicians should learn not to make election promises. British PM David Cameron promised a referendum on EU membership at a time when the polls indicated he would not have to make good on that promise. Politicians have a tendency not to look much beyond tomorrow, and this is a classic example of such thinking. Cameron wants the UK to remain in the EU. How stupid was it then for him to offer people the choice to leave?
The votes haven’t been cast yet, and we’ve seen enough opinion polling errors in the past few years to be certain that the pollsters have it right, but one thing is certain no matter what the outcome of Thursday’s vote. On Friday life in the U.K will be pretty much unchanged from the day before. It’s the months and years to come that will be influenced by the outcome.