On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom will hold a referendum to decide whether or not it will remain in the European Union.
There have been rumblings of such a referendum for quite some time now, but Prime Minister David Cameron, under extreme pressure from conservative politicians across the U.K., has officially announced that they will begin work to decide whether or not they should keep their place in the EU.
That’s all well and fine, but what would the U.K.’s abandonment (now referred to as Brexit) mean for other nations around the world, including the U.S.?
Although the maneuver’s potential effects on Britain sit in plain view, figuring out what this means for the rest of the world is a little more difficult.
First and foremost is the break’s economic impact.
According to experts, a huge free-trade negotiation is in the works between the EU and the United States. It’s an arrangement from which the U.K. would presumably be barred. A divorce of this magnitude could really gum up the works.
And the European Union isn’t doing so hot right now on the financial front. The loss of Britain may not bode well for remaining nations, causing tensions to rise.
And that could lead to instability across EU territories.
Europe may enter crackdown mode in an attempt to prevent other nations from following suit. This is where things would start getting really tricky not only for Europe, but for the States as well.
Loss of solidarity across the EU could destroy what is arguably one of the most successful foreign policy maneuvers ever implemented by the United States.
Basically, if the U.K. destabilizes the rest of the EU, European integration — which is a huge part of America’s legacy abroad — could be stopped in its tracks.
But what does that mean for us?
If the U.K. pulls the rug out from under Europe, any hope of creating a cohesive European identity could go out the window, leaving the U.S. further isolated. Britain in many ways serves as the arm with which America reaches into the European Union.
And quite frankly, that’s an amputation we can’t afford right now.
Americans are in the midst of one of the most heated presidential races of all time. Europe is facing crisis at every turn. The fact that the United Kingdom feels like further hobbling a union that’s dealing with issues in the Middle East, Africa, and in its own territories doesn’t help much. This could make geopolitical conflicts faced by Americans even harder to handle.
If the EU is forced to focus on internal problems, that leaves America on its own.
While European officials focus on disintegration, the American government may have to deal with even bigger burdens internationally. Destabilized regions around the world could lose support from European nations in the process, leaving the brunt of those responsibilities with us once again.
We may not feel those effects immediately. We may not walk the streets or grocery shop with Brexit weighing heavily on our minds. We may, however, feel its impact later. Here’s what President Obama had to say.
If you want to learn more about what Brexit could mean for Britain, the U.S., and the rest of the world, you can do so here and here.
It’s amazing how much weight rests on the shoulders of single nations. One wrong move — one flick of the political wrist — could send this house of cards tumbling down.