Brexit Overload? 4 Key Questions after Britain’s Vote to Exit the EU
The world didn’t end last Thursday, as Britons voted in favor of the Brexit, or exiting the European Union, but it might as well have for many.
More than 17.4 million Britons voted to “Leave,” compared with 16.1 million who voted to “Remain.”
The decision to leave not only plunged world financial markets into turmoil and resulted in the resignation of Britain’s prime minister, but it raised untold questions about the future of the world order imposed by the United States, Britain, and their allies on Germany and the Axis Powers following the Second World War. It also served as a warning shot across the bow of globalization as people wondered if Brexit is a harbinger of things to come.
The results of the landmark vote in Britain may not necessarily be the final word on the subject. Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, promised to heed the will of referendum voters, even though it’s not legally binding, but he’s leaving it to his successor to put the wheels into motion, which means nothing will happen until October at the earliest. It is still remotely possible that a Brexit might not ultimately take place but that’s the subject of speculation and best left for another day.
Ultimately, Brexit may be much more than a referendum on the country’s membership in the 28-nation bloc. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know.
What is the European Union?
Based on Google’s search history the day after the Brexit vote, it would appear that many Britons may not even have known what they had actually voted for. One of the three top questions in the days following the Brexit vote was “What is the EU?”
The European Union, often referred to as the EU, is the world’s largest common market and is comprised of 28 nations. It encompasses 508 million residents – including 65 million British citizens, who presumably will be leaving, and covers an area of 1.67 million square miles (4.32 million square kilometers). Within the Schengen Zone, to which 26 European nations belong including 22 of the 28 EU nations, passport controls have been abolished and EU policies are designed to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital.
The euro – indicated by the symbol € – is the official currency of the Eurozone, which is comprised of 19 of the 28 EU member states The currency is used by approximately 337 million Europeans including citizens of four non-EU countries.