clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Explaining Brexit in 21 tweets

New, 428 comments

Welcome to the hellmouth

The UK has voted to leave the European Union, a decision that has sent shockwaves through the world. In a final tally, the leave campaign won 51.9 percent of the vote, with a turnout of 71.8 percent — the highest in a UK election since 1992.

In political and financial terms, the fallout has been sudden and cataclysmic. David Cameron, the leader of the UK's ruling Conservative party, resigned this morning (although he'll stay in power until later this year), while the value of the pound has fallen through the floor and global markets have tumbled. Here are the two biggest indicators that despite the reassurances of the leave campaign, the UK's economy is about to take a big, big hit:

People in the UK are adjusting to the fact that the money in their pocket is worth less than it used to be:

While even financial experts are at a loss at what to say.

One of the clearest trends in the outcome of the vote, though, has been the split between the younger and older demographics.

Younger people overwhelming voted to stay a part of the EU, while older generations preferred to leave. Not surprisingly, many have pointed out the unfairness of this, given that the UK's older population — with houses, jobs, and pensions secured — have less to lose from financial and political turmoil.

Simply casting the vote as young people versus old people, though, is too simplistic. Polls have shown that the strongest demographic indicator for voting leave was not age, but education:

There's also division within the UK itself. Support for leave is strongest within England, with Wales also favoring Brexit. However, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and some of the UK's largest cities — London, Liverpool, and Manchester among them — made it clear they want to remain.

Many are predicting that this division could lead to a break up of the United Kingdom as a whole. Although Scotland voted to stay a part of the country in the 2014 independence referendum, strong Scottish support for the EU means that the Scottish National Party will likely seek a second referendum in the years to come.

In Northern Ireland the situation is even trickier. The country has a mostly open border with the Republic of Ireland (which will remain part of the EU) which was only established after decades of violence. Sinn Féin, the political party that supports uniting Northern Ireland and the Republic, has called for a referendum on this topic.

Some people, though, are just surprised you can get rid of the British this easily.

The outcome of the vote has also given a boost to factions in other European countries who want their own referendums. These include the Dutch Party for Freedom, led by a man who once compared the Koran to Mein Kampf, and France's right-wing National Front.

Back in the UK, the resignation of David Cameron has gone over well:

And left the country with questions about who might replace him. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove — two prominent Conservative backers of the leave campaign — are favorites for the top job, but annoyed voters also have their own suggestions:

Meanwhile, the UK Independence Party (support for which triggered this referendum), seems almost surprised by its own victory. Leader Nigel Farage said the leave campaign had won "without a bullet being fired" — despite the fact that pro-immigration MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death just eight days ago.

Farage has also already backtracked on one of his biggest campaign promises — that the UK could save £350 million a week by leaving the EU.

All of this has clear implications for America's coming election. The leave campaign managed to build a populist, right-wing base by playing on feelings of disenfranchisement among the white working class and stoking fears of immigration... That sound familiar at all?

Trump is actually in Scotland right now, visiting one of his golf courses. He certainly sees the similarities between the two campaigns (even if he missed the fact that Scotland wanted to stay in the EU, not leave it).

If the UK can be of any use at this point, it's as a warning of what happens when you let the old outvote the young. Good luck, America.