At this very moment thousand other journalists are punching away at their laptops, actuaries from across the globe are pulling out their hair in absolute horror and Governor Mark Carney (Bank of England) just said God save his country. Why? BREXIT-ED. The Brexit Lessons carry wide implications for many around the world. Just to provide a quick recap. The European Union is a politico- economic union of 28 states.
What does that mean?
In very simplistic terms, it’s a bunch of countries working together for possible mutual benefits.
How is it mutually beneficial?
Taking a very quick example. The United Kingdom can offer very little to the world market relative to say, the United states. However, the UK did not approach these markets as the United Kingdom because they know they’re a small economy(relatively). Instead they approached, everything as the EU, which is essentially similar to all of western Europe together, and the EU is a major power player. Think Game of Thrones. UK is House Stark and its rival is House Bolton. If Stark fought Bolton alone, defeat would be obvious. An EU type arrangement allows Stark to fight alongside the Free Folk, other Northern houses and the Knights of the Vale. The result of this was victory. Now the economic benefits are in addition to the people benefits. A citizen of an EU nation has the freedom to travel to and work in any other EU nation. (Somewhat like what the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement – CEPA was supposed to achieve). And today, England voted LEAVE! Intca is writing up an interesting analysis on the aftermath of BREXIT and that will be interesting and unbiased, as always, however that is not what this article is about. This article is about the lessons that Sri Lanka can take home from BREXIT. Particularly, lessons which our esteemed politicians can take home from Prime Minister David Cameron.
Referendums and Sri Lanka
Firstly, the British government genuinely wanted the people to decide and so they held a referendum. To let the people decide if Britain wanted to leave the EU. Now whilst Sri Lankans may not have had to decide an event of global significance as Brexit, there are a number of decisions where a referendum would have been a welcome inclusion. To pick the most recent example: The 19th Amendment to the constitution. The original document prepared by Dr. Wickramarathne was acclaimed by many legal experts as a truly exquisite piece of legislation. However, to enact some of its key features, a referendum was required. The government decided it couldn’t afford to have this referendum and so simply cut off the clauses which demanded a referendum and decided to say, “Well we did something”. Ideally what should’ve happened was to have a general election immediately after President Sirisena’s victory and then begin drafting a new constitution with a referendum if necessary. Brexit Lessons 1: Let the people decide what, not just who!
Maturity of Politicians
Secondly, getting on to the more interesting things: the political maturity of Britain. Here’s an excerpt from PM Cameron’s speech. “I’ve fought this campaign in the only way I know how – which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel, head, heart and soul. I held nothing back. I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union. And I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone, not the future of any single politician, including myself. But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path, and as such, I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.” This man (despite being a political animal) achieved a great deal for his country during his tenure as prime minister. Despite all this the PM resigned, because he failed. Being someone who has been relatively interested in the Sri Lankan political scenario, this simply blew my mind. Have we ever seen a Sri Lankan politician in such a prominent position ever resign because the people rejected their governments’ policies? NO. The craziest part is David Cameron was right! (As you will discover in our analysis). In Sri Lanka even after the nation decides. YOU’RE DONE. GO HOME. And they still keep coming right back saying I’m right, you’re wrong. (This statement is not referring to any specific individual. It’s referring to the fact that our political culture is that terrible) Brexit Lessons 2: If the people reject your policies, accept the people did so for a reason. And let a fresh leader take your place. Respect the rights of the people you represent!
Finally, it’s the genuine patriotism that Prime Minister Cameron showed which in my eyes, boosted the respect the global community had for him. “I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.” Frankly I believe Britain just got caught in a cluster fudge, and PM Cameron knows that too, which is why he fought so valiantly for STAY. However, despite his loss and impending resignation. He didn’t say: well go to hell, I’m done with this country. Nor did he try to justify how he is still right. Instead he accepts the peoples’ decision and says that he will do everything within his power to “steady the ship”, now that they are where they are. In Sri Lanka, the losing group would do everything within their power to scuttle the ship and say “HAH, SEE I WAS RIGHT, THEY MESSED UP, VOTE ME IN AGAIN”. And it’s with great sadness I realise that’s exactly what is happening right now. Brexit Lessons 3: Genuinely love your country! Not the fake patriotism that can be mustered up by spreading racism and hate. No! Leave aside petty party politics and petty personal gain and genuinely love your country the way David Cameron loved his. The only way to correct the political culture in our country is to get enough people to listen. The Sri Lankan democracy must learn the Brexit Lessons. My request to you is to spread this message by hitting that share button.