My thoughts on Brexit…

When I woke up yesterday morning to find the ‘Leave’ side had won the Brexit debate (the British exit from the European Union), I was saddened. Based on my Facebook feed and the texts on my phone, most of my friends were sad as well.

The main reason I am sad is this:  I did not think Leave would win. I thought this would be another classic example of  a group making a lot of noise about how they want change, but backing out at the last minute due to fear of the unknown. What saddens and scares me is that the Leave voters are less afraid of the unknown than they are of open borders, immigration, free trade, etc.

Do those things sound scary to you? As an educated millennial reading this (I presume), they shouldn’t – economies benefit from all three. And the close to three quarters of British youth who voted to Remain agreed. What should sound scary is that the majority of voters in the UK succumbed to xenophobic and protectionist beliefs that an isolated and independent Great Britain is better than a united, free and open one. What is even scarier is that the same philosophical divide is happening in the United States right now. Throughout all his totally off-the-cuff and illogical policies, Donald Trump has made clear that he sees a ‘great’ America to be a protectionist and isolated one. I can only hope that the majority don’t side with him as they did in the UK.

Moving beyond the emotional reaction, I sought to understand: What happens next? What is the impact for Canada?

Even though the UK has finalized its decision to leave the EU, it is far from saying its goodbyes. Britain has two years to negotiate its exit terms, including how it will trade with the EU member countries. It will remain a member until those two years are up, with the timer starting from the day that the Prime Minister invokes Article 50. PM David Cameron has stated his intention to do this immediately.

The biggest consequence from a Canadian perspective is the impact to trade. Canada had recently negotiated a trade agreement known as CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) between Canada and the EU, which is waiting to be ratified by Parliament. The agreement will have huge implications for free (or freer) trade between EU Countries and Canada. The UK will almost certainly be left out of the deal and forced to strike out on its own to create trade agreements – a process that can take many years, even a decade. Similarly, companies operating in the UK will now have to adapt to British law and language from the EU structure currently in place. This will act as a barrier to Canadian companies looking to set up shop there.

Last, I want to touch on the impact to people. Those with EU passports will no longer have access to jobs in Britain. Likewise, Brits wanting to work in other European markets will now find this to be a much more tedious process. Just how tedious, we do not know yet – but think of how difficult it is for Canadians to gain work access to the US without company sponsorship. The job pool will get smaller for both Brits and citizens of EU countries, and it will get harder for companies (specifically British companies) to flex their workforce when needed to enable speed to market.

While the Brexit might secure the jobs of the baby boomer working class voters who made Leave happen, it is sure to have implications for the British economy in the short, medium and long term. Short term effects have already begun with the plunging financial markets yesterday. And while these economic implications have me shaking my head, it is still the philosophical divide and its global implications that scare me most.

Authored by: Candice White, Co-Founder and Editor 

Source for facts: Globe and Mail


Source: Flickr


  1. Dear mCandice,
    I am a Boomer generation, late fifties Canadian who has lived in the US for 25 years and an avid Trump supporter. I offer the following reaction.

    It was Winston Churchill who, right after WW II, called for a “United States of Europe” and a “Coucil” of European Countries so that a further WW would not happen again. Churchill preached that another WW would be the end of humanity because of the technology that had been developed and used in WW II. A few years later in 1949 that Council of European Nations was formed and over the years has morphed into present day EU. Centralized government has gained power and with that a few people now control the whole. Individual liberties and freedom diminish. In my opinion that is happening in Europe, Canada, the US and possibly other countries.
    Donald Trump is the first high level “leader” to say that the world is going in the wrong direction. Local government should have more power. Central governments should be more efficient and work for the people and not dictate every part of their life. He has effectively coined phrases like “political correctness is killing us” (it sure is!) and “does Islam hate us?”.
    Central governments create phrases like Xenophobia, Homophobia, and Islamophobia to shut down healthy discussion.
    In the EU, Canada and the US Islamic culture is by far the fastest growing. We ALL agree that all people are the same. We are all created equal. We all are born the same and can only be taught to love or hate.
    We should be discussing Religion openly. What is religion?
    In my opinion (and this is an opinion shared by many boomers) ISLAM is more than a religion. Muslims are the majority in 57 countries. NONE of those countries are western-style democracies (in 1970 Turkey was a western-style democracy with a 20% Christian population…today it is not a democracy and has a 0.2% Christian population. Tunisia is trying). Twenty-one (21) of the Muslim countries have ISLAM as the state religion (other religions are illegal and violence is used to suppress non-compliance w ISLAM). In Indonesia (4th largest country in the world), the Muslim population is 80% and it is illegal to be Jewish. If you have a Jewish name it must be changed. In Yemen females start to marry at nine years of age and 48% of females are child brides. In Nigeria (the 7th largest nation) there is a 50% muslim population and a constant terrorist war going on (13,000 churches have been closed in 16 years). It goes on and on. The short line would be that Islamification is eventually violent and oppressive. ISLAM is not a two-way street. Muslim countries are not becoming less Muslim; they only increase the adherence to ISLAM through Central government.
    The Charlie Hebdo attack is a good example of political correctness in our governments. News networks were discouraged from showing the cartoon because it may cause violence. I would say the Islamic culture is the cause of any violence.
    Your millenial education (mEducation) tells that you cannot say things negative Islam because that would be Islamophobia. I call that political correctness.
    I hope that your children and children’s children have the degree of political freedom and civil liberties that I have had; but your assessment of the Brexit does not give me hope.


  2. Thanks for the great read Candice. My background is in Psychology and Social Science so I won’t pretend to know much about politics or history. However, I think the manifestation of Trump, and similarly, the manifestation of a xenophobic Brexit are informed by fear. Much of Boomer Bob’s argument is also marked in fear (and insult). It is true that governments, policies, the Leaders that manifest are tied to the religious rhetoric and history held within those countries. Maybe there is rhetoric within the very fabric of Islam that leads to oppressive government practices, or maybe it is the leaders who are interpreting Islam as a way to gain power. (Could say this is similar to Colonialism and many crusades in the name of Christianity around the world). The bottom line is freedom and dignity for all is not found through closing the doors, hate and fear, or converting/assimilating mass cultures of people. Power might be found there, but not an open and respectful society. Very interested to see what happens with the UK as my brother is working there on a EU visa currently. Proud to also have gained an mEducation here in Canada. Best, Emily Rose.

    Liked by 1 person

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