Brexit, the European Union and Multilateralism in International Politics

For the last three years, Brexit has dominated the political sphere within the UK, creating division, fear and a huge question for many Brits about their own perception of national identity. It is the driving force behind increased political engagement within the country, with, for example, more young people than ever involving themselves in political discussion, and some going further to take an active role in political groups. For the first time in decades, whether they be pro-Brexit or pro-Remain, the people of Britain are engaging and responding to political happenings in a way that is both exhilarating and, at times, terrifying.
In truth, Brexit has been a positive in that sense; I strongly feel that the only way to create either progress, or to maintain a political system that works for everybody is to encourage as much of the population as possible to be politically engaged, and to vocalise their needs, challenges and opinions, so long as they don’t encourage any form of hatred, violence or antisocial behaviour towards individuals or groups. On the other hand, the fact that it has taken what I am inclined to describe as a political crisis to create any form of widespread political awareness in this country is, to be frank, an embarrassment.

It would be unfair to write this article without first making my views on Brexit absolutely crystal clear — after all, this article focuses on these views, and to not state them first and foremost would go against my belief in journalistic clarity.
I am very much pro-Remain, meaning that I oppose the United Kingdom’s Exit from the European Union. I am also very much in favour of the Eu as a concept, and believe that, as well as the UK being better off within the EU, the EU itself is a positive union of nations.
This is not to say that I don’t believe that the EU has issues — of course it does. The EU has flaws, but ultimately they are no more significant than the flaws in any government or political alliance, and the positives that the EU can bring to a country vastly outweigh the negatives.

I suppose my key argument for wanting to stay within the European Union is internationalism. In my opinion, internationalism is the fundamental value on which the European Union is based; as discussed in the article linked above, nationalism in individual European countries has been a failure on several occasions, due to the justification of nationalism eventually morphing into superiority of one’s own country or country’s requirements over neighbouring nations. The European Union brings internationalism — the idea that all member states are equal, and that progress should be made for the success of all involved. this is effectively a form of international democracy, and whilst it does require some political alignments to be maintained between all member states, it manages to retain individual nations’ cultures, histories and identities in a fashion which is not destined for international warfare. The benefits of internationalism or, more basically, cooperation between geographically-linked countries, brings countless political, social and economic benefits to governments, organisations and individuals, such as frictionless trade, freedom of movement and the EU Customs Union.
For me as an individual, the advantages of the European Union — and hence of this model of internationalism are endless –, and include freedom to study, work and travel across Europe easily, expanding my choices, potential and knowledge of Europe. It also brings workers, students and tourists from across the continent to the UK, sharing a wealth of knowledge, experience and skills, and adding to a rich and diverse European community, second to none in its mix of cultures, languages, backgrounds and views, reliant on an understanding of mutual respect and open-mindedness. Considering its global impact, it increases the simplicity and appeal of travelling Europe for tourists from across the planet, opening the fascinating stories, art and culture of so many European countries to make it available to billions of people.

I’ve had experience of the positives of people coming from across the European Union to work and offer their skills in the UK. There is nothing more meaningful to a language student than being taught by a native speaker; in modern historical studies, it is enlightening to understand today’s perception of global events through a variety of international perspectives; in music, it is incredible to listen to, and discuss, music from other countries, in different languages,and to discover how it differs from English music, how the lyrics fit and how the styles vary. As someone with a disability, I can feel secure in my rights travelling across the European Union, safe from discrimination in any of the 28 member states due to EU law. Medically, I’ve undoubtedly benefited from the work of medical professionals from a multitude of European countries, able to share their knowledge and experience to improve, or in cases like mine save, lives. As a young person desperate to travel, the ease and freedom to travel to, and explore, the thousands of beautiful, culturally-rich European cities on offer to me is both overwhelming and awe-inspiring. The ability to take the train to Central London with nothing but my passport, and an hour later be speeding under the English Channel into mainland Europe is surely accountable for an increased awareness and respect for all cultures, as well as a true dream for a jet-setter like myself.

The trend of populist politics has taken a strong hold in the last five years, with primarily right-wing politics increasing in popularity due to its promise to change the slow-paced, seemingly-ineffective norms of our political capitals. Brexit was promoted as ‘taking back control’; then came Trump, who was going to shake up Washington and ‘make America great again’ (although I won’t start on the US just here); the 2017 elections saw the relative surge in popularity of the AFD in Germany. Populism is on the rise, and I can hardly see Brexit as anything but a populist movement, sold by the right-wing politicians as a chance for a fresh start, when in reality I can see nothing in our future but increased alignments with more nationalistic approaches to policy. Brexit isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of it, and if you think it is, you’re surely kidding yourself. Brexit is a short-term objective, but I struggle to believe that the United Kingdom will suddenly find a lost sense of peace and harmony on March 30th this year, when we are no longer a member of the wider European community. Quite the oposite, I predict a future characterised by division, as the nationalistic politicians move closer and closer towards Trump’s America, and further and further from the socialist, multilateral model of the uropean Union.
Populism is, in my view, a result of people who don’t like the current political system; I don’t blame them, because there are injustices committed on a daily basis in the current system of government. The only way to get their voices heard, they feel, is to vote against the government, to vote for something crazy, something that will make ‘them up there’ sit up and listen — and Brexit has certainly achieved that. Still, this is hardly a good or valid reason to commit political suicide, making things worse due to the already-poor conditions enforced by the UK government, notably austerity (2010-2018/19). The security and benefits which we received from the EU kept us going during these years, and the fact that most of this was behind the scenes, with only the negatives being pushed into the general public’s faces, has created a strong anti-Europe feeling in the working class, who felt austerity the worst, and had no one else to blame besides their own government than the European Union.

Brexit will be what Brexit will be, if Brexit will be at all. But if the sweeping movement of British populist politics is really commencing, it will commence at the strike of 11pm on 29th March 2019, when a future of uncertainty — besides the certainty of nationalism and a sense of self-importance — will befall our country. Whatever we did or didn’t vote for, and whatever you think of the European Union, surely the right option isn’t to campaign against almost a decade of unfair Conservative government by dropping like a rock out of a valuable and reliable international community. Surely Britain has more sense than this.

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