Britain’s tight 51.9% – 48.1% vote to leave the European Union this week has everybody talking.
Donald Trump, who just so happened to be celebrating the grand opening of Trump Turnberry Resort in Scotland at the time of the Brexit vote, praised the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
“People want to take their country back…People want to see borders. They don’t necessarily want people pouring into their country that they don’t know who they are and where they come from.”
Perhaps my favorite reaction comes from a young woman at Scotland’s Glasgow University:
As soon as the votes came in, Glasgow sent out emails reassuring students that it would stand by them (62% of Scots voted to “remain”). According to her Italian roommate, “Rome is considering re-opening the Colosseum and tossing the Brit visitors to the lions.” The roommate advocates that we round up all the Brits and “march them to the shores…instructing them to walk back to the motherland.”
Clinton, who was strongly allied with the “remain” campaign, slammed Trump’s response as “dangerous and frightening.” President Obama was also staunchly opposed to Britain’s idea of leaving the EU. Judging on his comments this week, you’d never guess that he had threatened the country just a few months ago: “The people of the UK have spoken, and we respect their decision. The special relationship between the US and the UK is enduring, and the UK’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone in US foreign, security, and economic policy.”
Obama went on to remind us that our relationship with the EU is important too.
French President Francois Hollande has a similar opinion: “This is a painful choice and it is deeply regrettable both for the UK and Europe. But this choice is theirs and we must respect it, accepting all the consequences.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also saddened by the decision, saying that Germany has a “particular interest and a particular responsibility” to uphold European unity due to its dark past. “We take note of the British people’s decision with regret. There is no doubt that this is a blow to Europe and to the European unification process.”
Many fear (or hope) that the Brexit symbolizes the complete breakdown of the European Union. The end of the EU is “just a matter of time,” says Dutch politician Geert Wilders of the anti-immigration Party for Freedom (PVV). “Time for a Dutch referendum! #ByeByeEU” he tweeted.
Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right French group Front National in France, shares Geert’s sentiment: “Victory for freedom! The British people have given to Europeans and to all the people of the world a shining lesson in Democracy. As I have been asking for years, now we need to have the same referendum in France and in the countries of the EU.”
Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny is greatly disappointed by the UK’s decision and confirms that “Ireland will…remain a member of the European Union. That is profoundly in our national interest.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin is personally insulted by Mr. Cameron, who had suggested that Moscow would benefit from Brexit. “I think this is nothing more than a flawed attempt to influence public opinion in his own country,” said Putin. “As we can see, even this did not bring the right result for those who did it, and moreover after the vote no-one has the right to make statements about some position of Russia. This is nothing more than a demonstration of the low level of political culture.”