Governance editorial board members on Brexit decision
Professor Wade Jacoby of Brigham Young University, a member of Governance‘s editorial board, posted this quick reflection on the UK’s vote to leave the European Union on his Facebook page on Friday. This note is reproduced with permission. Other reactions from Governance contributors and readers are welcome. Contact the editors or post below.
I rarely post on Facebook, but I wanted to express to my European friends my sadness at yesterday’s outcome. The Brexit vote will feel like a personal wound to very many Americans. It certainly does to me and Kindra. Aside from a train trip with my grandmother to Disneyland when I was eight, I never left a small corner of the Pacific Northwest (Alaska and Washington) until I was 21. Then I went to the UK for six months in 1985.
While there, I traveled with Kindra for a month to much of the rest of Europe, West and East. And I traveled alone for another month to a lot of the places we missed. For me, it was natural that Britain was intimately connected to Europe. For me, Britain was the gateway to Spain and Greece and Italy, but also to Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary. It was as an English-only person in England that I decided to learn my first foreign language. I get that this will appear crazy to many people, but it was my reality. Britain was how I discovered Europe. It was the safe and somehow familiar base from which I could explore places even more exotic and challenging. And to which I could retreat when my own linguistic inabilities and lack of understanding felt too big to manage.
Through the eyes of my British friends, Brexit became an obsession, and now that it’s reality, I scarcely know what to say. Last night, I was invited to a summer solstice party in Provo, and I allowed myself to attend once the vote counting had drifted slightly in favor of Remain with about 25% of precincts/constituencies reporting. It looked liked it would bounce back and forth across the 50% line for some time. I knew it would drive me nuts refreshing the screen every few minutes. I drove over to the party in my old Subaru, which recently had its drive train damaged and now squeals mightily whenever I turn a corner. After 90 minutes at the party, some friends peeked at a phone and we got the miserable news that Leave was up by 1.5% with too little left to count to hold onto much hope. I left the party and drove listlessly home. I¹d been away from Provo for so long, I’d not noticed that both headlights were out of the car. Not even the parking lights worked. As I slowly picked my way through the semi-dark streets, the car emitting high pitched squeals at every turn, I was reminded of the UK’s situation. There will be enough ambient light to steer by, but the whole process is wildly inefficient, noisy, unsafe and, judging by the alarmed looks of the late-night pedestrians I encountered, will lead people to wonder why exactly this course has been chosen when safer and simpler options were easily available.
This is a miserable outcome. I assume Scotland will now leave the UK. It’s bizarre to think that one of the next times I visit friends in Norwich, Liverpool, Catford, Dorset, Devon, and Sussex, it might be merely to visit them in England. Still a beautiful place, but what a diminished idea.