The UK Votes to Leave Europe: 4 Reactions to Brexit You Need to See

In what has been called an unexpected and stinging defeat for the UK establishment and Europe as a whole, the UK has voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union.

The vote raises a whole range of questions about what happens next, such as how the UK will actually go about leaving, to what it will mean for Europe as a united body, and more. Here are just a few reactions since the news was announced.

1. UK Prime Minister David Cameron to step down

Prime Minister David Cameron called a referendum on the EU question stating that it was time for the British people to once again have a say. However, this was done due to significant pressure from Conservative backbenchers. Mr. Cameron backed the Remain side in this fight, but throughout the campaign questions were raised whether Mr. Cameron could stay Prime Minister and leader of the party if the vote went against Remain.

With the UK narrowly voting to leave the EU, Mr. Cameron has announced he will step down as Prime Minister, saying that “fresh leadership” is needed. Mr. Cameron will remain as Prime Minister during the short term but will hand over leadership by the Conservative party conference in October.

He has indicated that he would help start the process of invoking what is known as Article 50, the legal instrument by which the UK puts in motion the two-year window to negotiate its exit from the EU, but it appears that the formal process will not get underway until Mr. Cameron steps down.

2. EU parliament wants the UK gone as soon as possible

This delay in beginning the exit has angered some EU officials, with Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, reportedly telling the Guardian that this delay is unacceptable. Saying that the entirety of the EU will not be taken hostage by the politics of the Conservative party, Mr. Schulz is quoted as saying:

“I doubt it is only in the hands of the government of the United Kingdom. We have to take note of this unilateral declaration that they want to wait until October, but that must not be the last word.”

Given that financial markets around the world have plummeted in the wake of this news, with only modest recovery throughout the day, EU lawmakers will likely want to speed through the process of withdrawal so that some stability can be brought back to the Eurozone at a time when the Syrian refugee crisis and Greece’s financial woes continue to test the region.

3. Calls for independence from the UK begin

Scotland’s leading politician Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “highly likely” to call for Scotland to be given another chance to vote on independence before the UK is able to formally withdraw from the EU–so within the next two years.

The 2014 independence vote ended with a majority deciding to retain Scotland and Westminster’s relationship, albeit with assured greater freedoms. However, Sturgeon vowed that if there was a “significant and material change in circumstances” she would push for another independence vote.

This week Scots voted by a sizable majority to remain in the EU, and so this conflict of principles appears not just politically ripe for use but also a genuine reason for taking the issue before the electorate once more. If Scotland does vote for further independence it may be able to negotiate remaining in Europe on its own, though precisely how that would work remains to be seen. This isn’t the only call for a shift in political control though.

Citing that Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has suggested that it would be appropriate to hold a vote for reunification with the Republic of Ireland. However other ministers have ruled this out saying that what’s known as a border poll can only be triggered if there is sufficient reason to believe a majority of Norther Ireland’s people would want to join the Republic of Ireland.  

Nevertheless, Northern Ireland is now in an interesting position because it shares its landmass with a country that is in the EU but remains within the UK. Some politicians have suggested that a passport control barrier will be needed in order to control the movement of people in and out of EU and UK territories, but how quickly this can be achieved remains unclear. That will also be of interest for Scotland which would similarly have to negotiate border control if it were able to remain in the EU.

Interestingly, Spain has also sought to capitalize on the UK leaving the EU by calling for co-governorship of Gibraltar. Known as “the Rock,” Gibraltar has been a British overseas territory for many years, and for perhaps nearly as long has also been a major point of contention between the Spanish and English governments. The majority of Gibraltar’s citizens carry British passports, but thousands also cross into Spain for work. As a result, the UK leaving the EU of which Spain is a part now sets up serious concerns about legal entry into Spain and other issues.

There are also questions as to what Brexit will mean for the Falkland islands, which are still deeply desired by Argentina.

4. America reflects on parallels in its own political future

While the UK’s situation and the current political race for President are not directly comparable, the politics of Boris Johnson and the xenophobia of some elements of the Leave campaign have set off warning flags for many progressives in the United States who grow increasingly concerned that, just as the Left in the UK thought an EU exit unlikely, America’s Donald Trump might just do the unthinkable and actually win the presidential race.

If there is anything that can be learned from the UK’s political fight over the past months, it’s that alienation, fear-mongering and a deep distrust of other nations can create a perfect storm of political action that can lead even usually reasonable people to go against compassion, unity and progressive causes. Many in the UK who voted to the EU have woken up today seeing that promises from the Leave campaign are already being broken and are saying they wish they had voted the other way.

Americans who reject all that Donald Trump stands for will want to make sure that doesn’t happen in the United States come November and will hope that the UK can serve as a wake up call for Americans who felt disengaged from the political process.

Take Action!

Join the Care2 community in calling for another general election to accurately represent the will of the UK people after this significant political change. Express support for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader with a vote of confidence. Finally, join Care2 in calling for the votes of 16 and 17 year-olds to be retroactively counted in this referendum, because it is they who will have to deal with the outcome of this vote. 

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


Tin Ling L
Tin Ling L2 years ago


Philippa Powers
Philippa Powers2 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

John W.
2 years ago

1 and 2 are actually right. 3 is utter drivel Scotland already voted No to independence by a 10% margin in favour of No.
4. Unlike the EU, an American state cannot succeed the USA.
2 out of 4 isn't bad for this leftist site.

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y2 years ago

6. Cameron yelling in public for Corbyn to step down. That was rich, when it was Cameron who caused the mess in the first place!

Joe Le Gris
Joe Legris2 years ago

The devil has been busy......

vanessa W.
vanessa w2 years ago

David F
There is so much wrong with your statement[s] where do I begin...
So, while we paid into the EU (up to 7bil before rebates) we will still have to pay circe 4-5bil to trade, yet we now do not have a single solitary say. Trade does not come free... We may have been governed by what some call 'an undemocratic process' but we had a say in it all, now we really aren't democratic, we'll be dictated to.
And while we are still making our 'widgets or service', our economy has dropped down to levels seen about 31 years ago. yeah, fantastic! That means our benefits, pensions, and so on, has dropped in value. Yea!
If the Jag isn't too popular now, what on earth makes you think leaving the EU will make it more so???
Norway and Switzerland pay a LOT of money to trade, and again, they have ZERO say. We spent this campaign with those countries telling us NOT to leave and we would be mad to do so. They still have to have freedom of movement, we don't automatically stop immigration and whatnot, that will still happen. The people who are here now, from other countries have been given (quite rightly I may add) amnesty, so NO ONE is being kicked out... so that whole campaign, about stopping immigration is one of pure lies. As was the idea that the money we pay into the EU would go straight into health services. It took 'that' group a couple of hours after the referendum announcement to say 'oh that promise?, yeah, not gonna happen'
Iceland is in the EFTA and EEA, again paying mon

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago

@ David F. Tata (Indians) own Jaguar.

Marie P.
Marie P2 years ago


Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y2 years ago

5. Nigel Farage and others walking back the "Leave" commercial that the UK's EU dues money will now go to the NHS (National Health Service).