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The Villages
Sunday, April 14, 2024

American media missing big story heating up across the pond

U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent
U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent

One of the most significant economic and security related stories is unfolding across the pond and the American media is, in my opinion, really letting us down in terms of coverage. What I’m talking about is known casually as “Brexit”. That’s shorthand for the U.K.’s upcoming vote on whether or not to remain within the European Union.
Why does it matter and why should Americans care? To answer that, we need a little context. The E.U. was first dreamt up in the years following WWII as a regional coalition with the goal to make war “not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.” Despite that lofty goal, it took until 1992 to make the European Union as we know it an actual reality.
As you can imagine, getting twenty-plus nations – all with competing interests – to agree on much of anything is tough. And despite the obvious economic and security benefits, E.U. members have some trouble from time to time justifying the need for continuing to participate.
This tension has been perhaps been the worst in the U.K. To make a long story short, the British Prime Minister agreed to hold a national referendum in June of this year.  The British people will decide whether or not to stay in the Union. While most economists agree that it would be economically disastrous in the short and medium term – both for the U.K. and the rest of Europe – many in Britain feel like the open borders with Europe and the fiscal requirements are hurting their nation.
To be sure, if the economic concerns prove valid and the Brits choose to leave the Union, we will feel it here.  In terms of sheer economic size, the EU’s importance cannot be overstated. We may be separated by an ocean, but our economies are deeply intertwined.
Even more concerning is that this “Brexit” has far-reaching ramifications for the cooperative security of the United States and our Western allies. The resolve, influence and collective military deterrent is lessened with a Britain-less European Union. Furthermore, the ability to apply economic sanctions as a whole is weakened if the world’s fifth biggest economy is not present.
As the military conflicts, terrorist regimes and refugee situations escalate in the Middle East, putting strain on Europe and abroad, I can certainly see why some Brits would seek greater national independence. I mean, if we had to work in concert with Mexico and Canada on every defense and trade issue, that would feel burdensome and inhibitory. And with the financial struggles of Greece, Italy, Spain and others continuing to weigh on more successful E.U. nations, exiting the coalition looks ever more appetizing. But, I encourage those with a hand in the pending vote to consider if the West will be, as a whole, safer and more secure from regional players like Russia and Iran if Britain decides to leave the European Union. Great Britain is a global force for good, and one of the most important players in an allied desire for deescalating global threats.
This is a complex issue and perhaps the defining geopolitical moment of this decade – one that will certainly have implications to how the United States conducts foreign affairs and national security measures in the future. I would love to hear your thoughts on the impending “Brexit” vote.
Is this something that is on your radar?  And if so, do you think Britain should remain in or choose to leave the European Union?

Congressman Rich Nugent represents The Villages in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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