The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly, 621-49, to approve the exit of Great Britain from the European Union. Parliament’s president David Sassoli signed the letter acknowledging the split and emailed it to the British government.
The final vote brings to fruition the dreams of eurosceptics in the UK who tapped a populist nerve in 2016 and rode the voice of the people out of the EU. Few thought it possible, with the exception of Nigel Farage, a political gadfly who ended up getting the last laugh.
It was fitting that Farage spoke during the UK’s last parliament meeting.
“I can promise you, both in UKIP and indeed in the Brexit Party,” said Farage. “We love Europe, we just hate the European Union. It’s as simple as that.”
Farage, 55, spearheaded the United Kingdom’s efforts to leave the EU, claiming a shock victory for Brexit in a June 2016 referendum that was confirmed when Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party won handily in a general election held in late 2019.
“I’m hoping this begins the end of this project. It’s a bad project. It isn’t just undemocratic, it’s anti-democratic, and it puts in that front row, it gives people power without accountability.”
Oh, the satisfaction he must have derived from MEPs singing “Auld Lange Syne” as he proudly waved the union jack with other British MEPs.
Yes, it was EU arrogance that drove Great Britain away. But it was also something that those who have been dreaming of an EU, or a “United States of Europe,” or a “Reich,” forgot to include in their planning: nationalism.
The EU tried very hard to stifle the national character of its member states, fully realizing it to be an impediment to their long term goal of getting rid of national parliaments and legislatures and have the EU run from Brussels. Also, the EU elites saw flaws in the national character of some peoples. They weren’t liberal enough, or tolerant enough, or “enlightened” enough.
It’s this attitude that has doomed the project from the start.
Farage correctly identified the forces at work.
“There is a historic battle going on now across the West, in Europe, America, and elsewhere. It is globalism vs. populism. And you may loathe populism, but I tell you a funny thing: it’s becoming very popular.”
The U.K. joined the European Economic Community in 1973 and will become the first nation to leave the EU on Jan. 31. The U.K. will follow all EU rules and regulations over the next 11 months until they exit on Dec. 31, 2020.
Farage couldn’t resist one last dig at those who belittled him for so long.
“I know you’re going to miss us. I know you want to ban our national flags, but we’re going to wave you goodbye,” stated Farage as the British delegation stood and waved the Union Jack.
The EU will continue to be an economic power — as long as France and Germany are running it. But for the smaller countries on the periphery of the continent, especially the southern tier of debtor nations like Italy, Spain, and Greece, the future is cloudy, indeed. The debt crisis that preceded Brexit may come roaring back during the next economic downturn and with skeptical governments now in charge, the survival of the EU may be only a matter of time.