If you found yourself asking “why” the United Kingdom voted to remove itself from its family within the European Union, then you are not alone. Many across the globe are trying to understand, predict outcomes and second guess the people of the United Kingdom.
To understand this divide, we must start with the most powerful and prominent leader of the European Union, Andrea Merkel. Who is she, and what has she done for Germany?
Andrea Merkel, Chancellor of Germany since 2005, was able, like no other, to pull together the two major political parties of Germany, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. An accomplishment that can only be achieved under a strong leader. An accomplishment that the President of the U.S. has refused to attempt, creating a divide in its citizenry that hasn’t existed since the ‘60s. An accomplishment that brought the German people together and made them a force to be reckoned.
In a Vanity Fair article, Maureen Orth says, “To think that only 25 years ago Angela Merkel was a divorced 35-year-old East German physicist specializing in quantum chemistry, who was not allowed to set foot in West Berlin and had never uttered a political opinion in public, was a striking affirmation of both the ability of Germany to recover and her own ability to succeed.”
“She’s very popular among the German people, but she doesn’t appreciate the German people so much. She doesn’t have much trust in them,” says another biographer, Ralph Bollmann, of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the leading conservative daily. “She had an enthusiastic image of the state of West Germany, that the people were very dynamic there, were oriented to compete; it was a long and hard process to learn that Germans are not like that.” According to Bollmann, the chancellor treats the German electorate—which recently gave Merkel a 74 percent approval rating—"as if they were children.“ Her nickname in Germany is Mutti, or Mommy. (A sticker on a litter can outside my Berlin hotel said, "Be careful. Mutti is watching you.”)
An economic conservative, Merkel demanded painful structural reforms of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland in exchange for small bailouts. Merkel pledged in her 2013 campaign that Germany would have a balanced budget by 2015. Today she continues to make decisions based on that pledge. She refuses to go into deficit spending in order to stimulate the economy. As a result, Germany is the largest national economy in Europe, the fourth largest by minimal GDP in the world and a founding member of the European Union and the Eurozone.
She refused to be a part of the Iraq war in 2003 and abstained on the vote within the U.N to join the U.S. in an intervention in Libya in 2011. In 2014, we saw the crisis in Ukraine take hold, and while Barack Obama refused to take a leadership role, Andrea Merkel stood at the helm in dealing with Putin.
When President Obama spoke at Tiergarten in 2008, Dirk Kurbjuweit, a journalist, said, "At the time, Merkel told him that Obama’s charisma — the very idea of which is antithetical to everything that is Angela Merkel — was overrated: “When he’s running, he can shine, but when he is in office he will have very different tasks. You can’t solve the tasks with charisma.”
As the United States has found out, charisma has done nothing in solving the problems of the world. Needless to say, the relationship between Obama and Merkel still remains cold.
As we come back to the vote by the United Kingdom (UK) to secede from the European Union (EU) the question remains, Why?
The finger of blame seems to be pointing in the direction of the refugee crisis that has been seen around the world. Andrea Merkel opened the borders of Germany resulting in over a million refugees flooding the country along with an additional numbers arriving monthly. Merkel’s popularity with the German people has dropped to a new low as the Cologne sex attacks of New Year Eve hit the news. Hundreds of women were targeted, raped, molested and robbed while evidence came pouring in that police forces nationwide were suppressing immigrant crime and refusing to pursue migrant offenders.
Orth also says, “There are other serious issues brewing inside Germany. Her country has one of the lowest birthrates in the E.U., and 35 percent of children under five have an immigrant background, mostly Muslim. At the current rate, Germany could acquire a million refugees every five years. How will they be integrated into German society?”
The New York Times recently reported, “Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, countries that long set the standard for welcoming refugees from war and persecution, are rapidly rethinking their generosity as the tide of migrants to Europe strains their budgets and roils their politics.”
Sweden and Denmark currently have the highest number of sexual assaults in Europe. Statistics show that one in every four Swedish women will be raped.
Frontpage Magazine reports,
“With Muslims represented in as many as 77 percent of the rape cases and a major increase in rape cases paralleling a major increase in Muslim immigration, the wages of Muslim immigration are proving to be a sexual assault epidemic by a misogynistic ideology. …
"In Stockholm this summer there was an average of 5 rapes a day. Stockholm has gone from a Swedish city to a city that is one-third immigrant and is between a fifth and a quarter Muslim.
"Sweden, like the rest of the West, will have to come to terms with the fact that it can either have female equality or Muslim immigration. It cannot have both.”
Noah Barkin, Rueters bureau chief for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, said, “Without a doubt, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s standing in Europe has taken a hit because of her handling of the refugee crisis. Her welcoming stance of "We can do it” is seen as naïve, not only in Central Europe but also by close partners like France, which is still reeling from the November terrorist attacks in Paris and is not in the mood for solidarity on the migrant issue. The mass assaults on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve have deepened the skepticism.“
The Daily Mail reports,
The floodgates would open: Fury over EU plans to make Britain accept 90,000 refugees a year as part of migrant quota. "This is scandalous,' said Sir Gerald Howarth, a former Tory minister. 'The tribunal should have no business in this matter. We have very strict laws on immigration and asylum that are set by Parliament. It is not for the courts to undermine them in this way.”
The Guardian reports,
“Polling suggests discontent with the scale of migration to the UK has been the biggest factor pushing Britons to vote out, with the contest turning into a referendum on whether people are happy to accept free movement in return for free trade.
"Cameron promised before the 2010 election to bring migration down to the tens, not hundreds, of thousands. However, his failure to live up to his promise, repeated in 2015, has undermined trust in his leadership and contributed to a sense that UK politicians are powerless to lower migration from the EU.”
The Guardian reports another reason for the exodus:
“The leave camp argued that Brussels has been on a mission to expand its powers and sought further political integration, which is far removed from what the UK originally voted for. Voters appear to have decided that this was their one chance to leave a union they never particularly embraced and did not consent to in the first place.”
The dissatisfaction in the United Kingdom seems somewhat similar to the rise of the American middle and working class and the ever building support for Donald Trump.
“The leave campaign has throughout painted the EU and Brussels officials as a hotbed of unaccountable political elites who were not democratically voted by the British people.”
I guess the people have had enough!