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Britain Exits the EU: What's Brext for the US?

30 June 2016

This past week, the world watched as 30 million Brits took to the polls to vote on a referendum deciding Britain's future within the European Union. A referendum is a general vote by the constituency on a single political question that has been referred to them for a direct decision. 

71.8% of the electorate participated and ultimately voted, by a margin of 52% to 48%, to leave the EU. 

Wondering what exactly this means to the US? Below is a breakdown of the referendum as well as the stances of key US presidential candidates.

Those campaigning to leave the EU argued that Britain was being held back by the rules and restrictions that come with being one of 28 nations. An exit would allow businesses to negotiate their own trade deals, and would provide the freedom to focus solely on British interests.

Those who favored an exit also cited a need for the nation to take back control of its borders. The UK is one of 10 EU member states who contribute more to the budget than they get out. In 2015 the UK contributed 13 billion pounds to the Union's budget, but EU spending on Britain was only 4.5 billion pounds. This is the equivalent of Mississippi receiving significantly more federal aid per capita, than say California, in relation to how many tax dollars they send to the federal treasury.

Proponents of staying argued that EU membership fuels economic growth by providing easier trade and a steady flow of young people who are eager to work and in turn, pay for public services. For example, the brightest minds in Europe could work for UK companies without the hassle of obtaining a Visa, which can be difficult.  A majority of the big businesses were in favor of staying because of the ease of movement throughout the member states of people, money, and products.

Great Britain's decision to exit the European Union puts even more pressure on the ongoing US presidential election. The Obama administration has long advocated for the UK to stay, to maintain stability and foster collaboration within member states, as a model for the rest of the world. President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron called for the UK to stay in a joint press conference back in April 2016.

Cameron stated, “Our collective power and reach is amplified by Britain's membership of the European Union... I've never felt constrained in any way in strengthening this relationship by the fact that we're in the European Union. In fact, quite the reverse.” 

Obama echoed these sentiments, saying: “the outcome of [the referendum] is a matter of deep interest to the United States because it affects our prospects as well. The United States wants a strong United Kingdom as a partner. And the United Kingdom is at its best when it's helping to lead a strong Europe. It leverages UK power to be part of the European Union.”

The EU has served, for some, as a model for globalization and the spread of democracy by demonstrating the benefits of collaboration and collective security. The Brexit brings up uncertainties in the future of global governance. The stability and effectiveness of international and non-governmental organizations such as NATO, NAFTA, and the UN have also been called into question. 

Whoever is elected as the next President of the United States will have a significant impact on the future of intergovernmental agencies and consequently, the spread and preservation of democracy. 

So now you may be asking “What's brext for the US?” This will depend on which public officials are elected in Election 2016. Come November 8th, American voters will have their chance to have a direct say in how their country is to be run. To find out how to register to vote in your state, visit our voter registration page.  

Read below to see where the major presidential candidates stand on Brexit: 

Donald Trump (presumptive Republican nominee)
The Trump campaign released a statement regarding the referendum, celebrating the British people's decision to “reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy.” He went on to call Americans to action to restore American independence from the global elite. 

Trump's nationalist platform aligns with Britain's Leave Campaign which also favored stricter border control and prioritizing national interests. Trump's views on immigration and other issues have been researched by  Vote Smart's Political Courage Test department and can be found here.  

Hilary Clinton (presumptive Democratic nominee)
The Clinton campaign also released a statement following the close of voting on the referendum echoing Obama's concern for stability within the EU following the exit, "We respect the choice the people of the United Kingdom have made. Our first task has to be to make sure that the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families here in America.” 

To learn more about Clinton's views on foreign affairs and how she would handle global issues, click here

Bernie Sanders (Democrat)
Sanders used the Brexit as an opportunity to highlight the shortcomings of the global economy for both Brits and Americans. In a press release Sanders said, “The lesson of Brexit is that while the very rich get much richer, working people throughout the world are not seeing the global economy and an explosion of technology benefiting their lives.” 

Sanders is a proponent of strengthening global ties and international cooperation, which are not supported by Britain's decision to leave the EU. To learn more about Sander's stances on foreign affairs as well as other issues, click here.

Jill Stein (Green Party)
Stein completed Vote Smart's Political Courage Test directly in 2012 and explained her views on foreign policy, which do not coincide with the rationale behind the Brexit. She stated, “U.S. interests can be best served by a demilitarized foreign policy, guided by human rights and international law.” 

She directly supported the Brexit in a press release, “Britain has spoken for much of humanity as it rejects the failed vision of a world that prioritizes profit for the few amidst hardship for the many.” 

Her support of human rights and international law goes against nationalist intentions and supports the pillars upon which the EU was founded. To learn more about Stein's positions on various issues click here.

Gary Johnson
Johnson voiced his support for the Brexit in a speech at Politicon, a non partisan comic event for politics, stating, “the EU has, for some time, been pulling Britain down a path to unsustainable entitlements and away from the opportunities the free market offers. That voters rejected that path is not surprising." 

Johnson is running on a platform that supports protecting American sovereignty and minimizing the scope of government. In this sense, Johnson's views are very much in accordance with Britain's Leave Campaign. To learn more about Johnson and how he would handle America's involvement in foreign affairs, click here.

To see where your thoughts on international cooperation and national sovereignty coincide with your Presidential and Congressional candidates, use Vote Smart's VoteEasy, where you can easily be matched with your political soulmate.

This blog was written by Emily Verica, a PCT intern. 



Related tags: blog, Brexit, Great-Britain

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