Brexit, the European Union and what is next?
In 2015, the largest number of non-citizen immigrants arriving in Britain come from Poland, Ireland and Germany.
Anyone born in Northern Ireland qualifies to apply for a passport issued by its neighbouring country, the Republic of Ireland.
The UK is facing a critical moment in its union, after being an island nation which once wielded power in an Empire across the world in the age of colonialism, industrialisation and shipping. Its location off the north-west coast of mainland Europe was destined for it to deal with the continent, whether in military campaigns, economic exchanges, cultural influences and social-religious developments.
The ruling House of Windsor has German roots and once had close relatives in all the royal houses of present and past European states. The Saxons invaded England from France. The English and Portuguese have had close political alliances for the past 700 years. Brit tourists are a significant presence in Spain and in any football match held on the continent. British pensioners contribute to the viability of many countryside French villages. The British presence in Romania, despite Dracula and all, is under mentioned.
Denmark has a Crown Princess with a Scottish-Australian background. The links between the UK and Europe are undeniable, not just in trade, banking, Western thought and shared history.
Britain voting to leave the EU spotlights on issues underpinning how contemporary Europe is trying its best to be united. Perhaps the EU should take a more serious review of how a union can be formed with countries big and small, each with a rather strong sense of cultural identity, varying levels of ability in financing and economic development and with disadvantages in currently adopting a common currency.
Maybe it is not so much of the UK voters in the Brexit referendum being unhappy with decisions made in Brussels, or with EU membership benefits only pleasing the banking fraternity in London city. It is the nature and conditions of EU membership that causes discontent, amongst the right wing, the dispossessed and the unemployed residing on the continent.
Add to this heady mix the several or so ethnic groups who are unhappy and dissatisfied for a variety of reasons living in European countries, being part of a larger political entity with whom they do not share cultural and political values. For example, Catalonians have been displaying strong signals to break away from Spain; the Scots have been pursuing autonomy from London and the referendum majority vote for the UK to leave the EU has deepened the split in this perspective between Scotland and England; and the sizeable Muslim minority in the Republic of France have complained of alienation and economic disparity from the mainstream.
The dream of a united Europe stems from the bitter, savage and regretful experiences of two major wars in the 20th century. Yet it is not a smooth and uneventful path to form a union of so many states. Unlike historical China, where union was often violently and painfully enacted upon what were disparate kingdoms, thousands of years ago, to result in today's Han Chinese consciousness and sense of collective cultural belonging, Europe faces contemporary challenges in forming a meaningful federated entity. What are the effective European values that can be utilised to keep alive the Euro dream?
It is surely that any referendum that David Cameron wrought has unleashed what may be truly a Pandora's Box impacting on economics, politics and social matters for many years to come. Did Cameron really not consider an outcome of the majority of British voters deciding to quit the EU? Would there not have been any contingency plans to deal with such an outcome in the expected processes of business continuity planning and action for a nation like Britain?
It can be ironic that the EU referendum held in Britain in June 2016 may also lead to the break up not just between the European continent and Britain, but for the UK itself and perhaps for the European Union - who knows?
The pessimistic doomsayers chatter about the financial capital of Europe moving to Germany, the opportunity for Dublin to enhance its role for the EU (it is already the back room processing centre for many businesses in that region) and for paris to steal the limelight further from London. Londoners will not give up their strategic and profitable status that easily - and will find ways of continuing to prosper in an ever changing world.