The biggest issue on the international newspapers is the British referendum on the 23rd of June. The UK voters will vote whether they want to remain in the EU or leave from the EU in less than 3 weeks.
After two polls (Guardian and ICM) showed the Leave campaign taking a slim lead over Remain, the arguments were heated up last week.
Recently we see so many politicians and intellectuals of many fields are warning that if the UK leaves the EU, it would hurt the economies of both Britain and the EU badly. They predict that the number of the UK unemployment would rise and currency would nosedive. They alert even the security of the NATO as a whole would face a huge danger while Russia is trying to expand the influence.
Although PM Cameron had attacked the new mayor of London because of his potential Islamic roots, he decided to move shoulder to shoulder with him to lead the Remain campaign. That is the evidence to show that they are not feeling confortable even now. The government, IMF, the OECD and the central Bank of England all together could not have convinced the people yet. What would happen to London, which has been a financial center of the Europe for a long time if the UK decides to leave?
When PM Cameron led the tributes to Ms. Jo Cox in the House of Commons, MPs gave her a thounderous ovation. Some analyse the tragic death of her would change the tide of the voting ironically. The race, however, is too close to anticipate any result yet
The Leave camp emphasizes on the immigration issue, and the Remain camps focus on the economic impact of a break-up with the EU.
Younger and better-off people living in urban area tend to be in the Remain camp. On the other hand, the elder, more traditional and less educated lean to the Leave camp.
Until recently I could not listen to any concrete voices of the Leave camp.
Some say “ Britons feel alienated in the sense of European. We feel “ otherness ” to Europe. We have different language, traditions and historical antagonism.” For me, a Japanese who had been taught the European history always together with the history of England, it sounded very strange. But the honest feeling of common British “ the culture has nurtured by mainly German and Latin is different profoundly from the culture of Anglo-Saxon. And we have had historical antagonism for so long.” This subtle difference is not understood in Japan.
But the argument of the Leave campaigner continues, “ when we pay around 12 % of the EU budget, which gave some subsidies to the new members, what have they done to us?”
The leaders of Germany, Spain, Ireland, the Netherland and the U.S. have warned about the considerate economic cost of the divorce. Recently the CEOs of the multinational companies such as JP Morgan have actually threatened their employees that they would risk thousands of jobs in the UK, if Brexit happens.
Still they haven’t succeeded to convince the people in the Leave camp or those in the middle.
A recent Isps Mori survey showed that only 22 % of respondents thought their standard of living would suffer as a result of Brexit. That is rather shocking.
On top of that we can see some movements like in Netherland the voices that want to have the referendum to decide their own future if the UK decided the divorce with the EU
Another focus is the immigrant issue, which shadowing over the referendum. Those who in favor of leaving stress the social, cultural and economic risks of continued immigration from other EU member countries, whose citizens are entitled to live and work in Britain. Most of them are from Poland, the Baltic countries, Spain and Greece. The Leave camp insist the British have suffered the loss of jobs because of incoming cheap labors.
On top of that the shadow of the new immigrants crisis from Islamic world is making the issue more complicated.
Hungary has already built the walls to shut out the immigrants. Balkan rout is tightened.
The president, who was a sworn friend of Ms. Merkel, of Austria stepped down after the crisis had tensed. In the election to choose his successor the two governing parties lost their chances in the first round. Mr. Van der Bellen had defeated the right wing candidate after the postal ballots were counted. All the European countries were watching the election so closely. And many of us were frightened.
Recently so many countries in EU are witnessing the sharp rises of the right wings, those who assert the opposition to reception of the migrants. In Britain also there are many elderlies or conservatives, who were left behind of the globalization. Many of them do not want to be bothered with migrant crisis.
Some argue that the Remain camp has momentum. Some give the opposite prospect. They are too close to predict the result yet. The people’s minds, however, are easy to swing. One terrorist attack in the UK would lead a landslide to the Leave votes. That would shake whole European region.
The possible Leave result could send shockwave to the global economy. It would be very difficult to expect the future of the large plan to keep one market, one labor market and then one currency zone in such case.
The result of this referendum will not only affect the domestic politics in the UK but also the politics in all EU countries. The Conservative party would not be able to heal the wound of internal division for a long time. The deep-rooted feelings of anti-political elite of the people were gained the significant momentum. Once it came to the surface, it would not sleep soon. It even could pave the way to the collapse of the EU.
The leaders in Germany and France seem to have started to talk about the EU without Britain already.
Millions of voters have still to decide which way to vote in the UK. What will make them decide which side they will vote?
There left less than 2days before the judgment day. This vote will surely affect Japan too. I do believe we should watch the event with close attention.