A few thoughts in the immediate aftermath of Brexit
The results of the referendum are in and the UK has voted to leave the European Union. The official campaign was littered with awful arguments that play to the public’s worst sentiments – and the decision was likely driven by ignorance and the older voting population. As a foreigner in the country and someone who believes passionately in free trade, open immigration, and the principles of a free society – I am nervous.
The markets have slid and there is uncertainty over what this will mean for the future of the UK and Europe. David Cameron has resigned. No one knows just how this is going to play out. The longer horizon will depend on the course that is chartered in policy negotiations and positions adopted by the UK.
Many of the people I have discussed this with in academic and policy circles want a freer, more open society. This led some to vote remain and others leave, based on divergent predictions about which course of action would lead to a more open society. I take this as one reason for optimism amidst the fear.
The aftermath of this vote will require a broader coalition of liberals to push for an open trade and immigration policy. Trade policy that is crafted in the next few years will be crucial to the economic impact of Brexit. Britain desperately needs policy entrepreneurs, City of London, and leaders in Parliament to craft a solution that maximises openness to counter the populist, nationalist, and collectivist sentiments that may have got us here. It is hard to see this now, having just voted to leave the EU single market.
As my friend Sam Bowman points out, the biggest reason London is a great city is due to immigration. We want more of that, not less – from Europe and everywhere else. The voices for free trade must be louder than ever.