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'Texit' Secessionists Say They're Inspiring Other Restless States to Charge Ahead

Longhorn cattle in the Fort Worth Stockyards historic district on April 6, 2016. (Philip Lange/Shutterstock.com)

Now that British voters have called on their island nation to leave the European Union with their affirmative vote on Brexit, Daniel Miller, the president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, has formally called for the governor of Texas to support a similar vote in the Lone Star State.

“The win for Brexit opens the door for Texit by establishing, concretely, that it is possible to have an adult conversation on independence and letting the people have the final say on our continued relationship with the Union and its sprawling Federal bureaucracy,” Miller said.

Winning the endorsement of Gov. Greg Abbott (R) could be a stretch.

Abbott disputed a 2009 story that quoted then-Gov. Rick Perry (R) with endorsing the idea of an independent Texas, and has said that there are better ways than secession to fight Washington’s “overreach.”

“I continue to believe that we can fight this overreach from within the existing system and framework. If I have to, I will use one challenge after another to dismantle governmental operations that I consider violations of the Constitution,” Abbott told the Texas Monthly in 2012, while serving as Texas attorney general.

Still, the TNM makes the argument that support for Texas secession is growing. The group tried to get 75,000 signatures on petitions to force a secession proposal to be added to the March 2016 GOP primary ballot.

Ten county delegations came to the GOP convention intending to support the TNM proposal.

The Texas Republican Party felt threatened enough by that to squash the idea before it ever got rolling. GOP leaders were worried, with good reason, that Democrats would seize on the ballot proposal as a campaign issue.

“Every hardworking Texan should be worried that fringe issues are now the hot topic in the same party that controls state government,” Crystal Kay Perkins, the executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a statement.

Despite the Texas GOP convention defeat in December 2015 and those who argued to the contrary immediately following the Brexit vote, Nate Smith, the executive director of the Texas Nationalist Movement, said he was confident the proposal to pull Texas out of the U.S. has sufficient momentum to force a referendum vote.

Smith said the TNM’s 260,000 supporters, hundreds of thousands of social media followers and “ceaseless activism on the issue since 2004” are certainly a great beginning.

“For several years now, we have been receiving new supporters and volunteers at a pace like we have never seen,” Smith said. “And as word about the Brexit referendum has spread throughout Texas, people are realizing that the TNM is offering a real choice and a real solution and not just more of the same.”

Miller and Smith pointed to what they saw as the similarities in spirit and motivation between Brexit and the TNM’s 12-year fight to get Texans out of the U.S.

“From the looks of it, the British people have chosen to take control of their political and economic destiny,” Miller tweeted after the Brexit vote results were official. “The forces of fear have lost.”

However, the success of Brexit could hurt Texas.

No state in the nation exports more to the EU than does Texas. The European Union was worth more than $27 billion in sales to Texas in 2015.

In addition, businesses in Texas made $4.4 billion in sales to Britain in 2015, which is the 11th largest market for Texas.

Rachel Wellhausen, an assistant professor of international political economy at the University of Texas-Austin, told the Houston Chronicle that all that money flows into Britain and Europe via EU rules. If, thanks to Brexit, new rules are imposed, it will mean new paperwork, and there is no such thing as free paper-shuffling and numbers-crunching.

Just an increase in uncertainty could also hurt the Texas economy.

The conventional wisdom is that investors will want to hold on to their cash while all of the Brexit consequences are sorted out over the next two years.

Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University’s Baker Institute, said that will impact Texas’ No. 1 cash crop: oil.

“Lower global economic growth would mean less demand for oil and natural gas and in turn lower prices for the Texas energy industry, which is already suffering,” Jones said.

Oil prices fell 5 percent almost as soon as the results of the Brexit vote were published.

But it isn’t just a drop in energy industry exports that concerns Bud Weinstein, a Southern Methodist University economist, at least in the short term.

“We should be worried about it, particularly in Texas, because we have one of the most export-oriented economies in the country,” Weinstein told the Austin American-Statesman. “We export oil and natural gas, hi-tech products and services, food and more.”

But still, Daniel Miller said the Brexit vote has resulted in an explosion of secession talk, not just about Texas. Now like-minded people in New Hampshire and California are joining the chorus.

“We’ve been contacted by people in other states that are looking to us for advice about how they can begin the process of asserting the independence of their states,” he told the Washington Times.

“We’re looking across the Atlantic and witnessing what to many is this surprising Euroskeptic movement, although it’s not really surprising if you pay attention over there,” Miller said. “What’s the most surprising is now the rearing of its head of the Ameroskeptic movement, or the federal skeptic movement.”