Brexit Plan

Posted by Fe Bongolan


It’s not every day you get to see one country spark a geopolitical domino-fall, affecting the lives of millions on an entire continent with a single referendum. Yet it happened. Overnight, the Brexit vote in the UK did just that. Fe Bongolan takes a look at the instability that has just been unleashed.

It’s not every day you get to see one country spark a geopolitical domino-fall, affecting the lives of millions on an entire continent with a single referendum. Yet it happened. Overnight, the “Brexit” vote in the UK did just that. This same vote will lead to other votes that most likely will literally break the United Kingdom apart, with the possibility of more instability to come.


Watching my UK friends and members of Planet Waves’ community go through the shock of yesterday’s EU Referendum, I am reminded of the night that Ronald Reagan was elected. I was in my late 20s, outraged, drunk, shouting in the streets and generally furious.

How could we elect a right-wing savior on the heels of a tax revolt? How could we do that after a successful anti-war movement and the Nixon impeachment? Yet it happened. And we’re still climbing our way out of not only that, but a political movement that’s taking a long time to die. We’re trying to clean up the mess that movement created throughout our government, our culture and the world map over the last thirty years.

To our UK kin: We feel you here in the US. We felt what you feel now after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004. It’s a deep kind of grief, only it’s not just personal. It’s mourning for your community, your country and its place in the world, and the frustrating change you’re going to be watching in the future.

The Brexit vote looks a lot like someone shooting themselves in the foot. This time, the shooter is a whole country. London, a global financial center in large part because of the UK’s major player status in the EU, voted overwhelmingly for Remain; but it was “Little England” — outside of London — that shouted its approval to discontinue with the EU, voting ‘Leave’ by 52%.

London as a global financial hub now looks at a future that’s clouded. Scotland will move towards a referendum on Independence (which narrowly lost two years ago) with plans to stay with the EU as its own nation; Northern Ireland aspires to join the rest of Ireland and remain in the EU as well.

Eighty percent of the electorate who supported “Leave” cited the increased wave of immigrants into the UK. The nativism of the “Leave” campaign, led by UK Independence Party (UKIP) Leader Nigel Farage, found a perfect climate in England and a perfect scapegoat in immigrants to gin up fear for (white) British-only economic security in the context of the EU’s sluggish austerity.

This nativism is downplayed in today’s victory lap by Farage and former London Mayor Boris Johnson. But it may be ridden all the way through to an inevitable period of instability of the European region. Things could get very wild — as in, a fascist’s wet dream. France’s Marine le Pen and America’s Donald Trump are drooling.

Austerity, as with any time of economic struggle, is a perfect breeding ground for right-wing movements to flower based on “frustration aggression” — acting out against a scapegoat, whom you blame for your lack of opportunity and compete against for diminishing resources. In the case of an overwhelmingly white UK, Muslim and Eastern European immigrants get the scapegoat role.

The same goes for Mexicans and Muslims here in America, courtesy of Mr. Trump. Trump is using shrinking middle-class discontent and the threat of diminishing white male power in the social and cultural evolution of the Obama Administration to gin up support. This is what got him the nomination for the Republican Party.

What happened in the UK was that Cameron was forcing too much austerity on the UK’s middle class, and did not allow room for his country to regain some vital public services — like its National Health System. The people of the UK have spoken their preference and the majority voted to leave.

As I mentioned, this will likely lead to another vote on Scotland’s Independence and a move by Northern Ireland to join Ireland in full. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland want to remain in the EU. But even the Brexit is not official, yet. Its exit must be approved by mind-boggling bureaucratic processes, and then approved and ratified by EU member countries.

I won’t belabor the point any further over what choices have to happen next, now that this referendum has happened. There’s time for that. I can only feel solidarity with our friends across the Atlantic — and a chill, warning us of what may happen here in November and in Europe in the future. At this point it could be anything; though as Len Wallick suggests in his column below, letting ourselves be ruled by fear is not the same as acting with awareness, and cuts us off from evolution — however messy it may be.

Instead of belaboring points, I raise a pint. Holding you close, friends and cousins. Let’s hold each other through the changes!

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Posted in Welcome on | 12 comments
Fe Bongolan

About Fe Bongolan

Planet Waves writer Fe Bongolan lives in Oakland, California. Her column, "Fe-911," has been featured on Planet Waves since 2008. As an actor and dramaturge, Fe is a core member of Cultural Odyssey's "The Medea Project -- Theater for Incarcerated Women," producing work that empowers the voices of all women in trouble, from ex-offenders, women with HIV-AIDS, to young girls and women at risk. A Planet Waves fan from almost the beginning of Eric's astrology career, Fe is a public sector employee who describes herself as a "mystical public servant." When it comes to art, culture and politics, she loves reading between the lines.

12 thoughts on “Brexit Plan

  1. Geoff Marsh

    I’ll drink to that, Fe. Cheers!

    In my neck of the southern British woods, we don’t meet a lot of “foreigners” but today, while waiting at a bus stop, a woman approached me and, needing direction, asked if I was a local. “I am,” I said, “and where are you from, may I ask?” “Belgium,” she replied. “Oh dear,” I said, “we’re not allowed to talk to each other any more.” Laughter all round.

    It turned out she is about my age and is an environmentalist like me. We had an instant rapport and the lesson I took from this encounter was that our countries may no longer be in the same club but that does not prevent the citizens of Europe from talking to each other. The two of us had an encouraging discussion about the problems facing the world and how the divisions between nations is often the cause of our ecological problems.

    We must not forget what happened in Europe during the 1930s. If we do, we are in danger of repeating that catastrophe. We must challenge those who are attempting to replicate that situation.

    Our children’s children already know this. We should listen to them.

      1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter

        Fe — I was just about to post about the referendum re-do. One of my British friends had commented about it on a post of mine on FB. She said:

        “Currently petitioning for a 2nd referendum, as the margin was so close and under a certain % turnout…up to nearly 250k signatures already, so fingers crossed! Pretty angry and shocked to be honest, along with basically everyone I know, so, desperately trying to hang on to any morsal of hope!”

  2. Vincent

    I think I am missing the big picture here – I see the referendum as a vote against an oppressive oligarchy suffocating the poor and the middle-class and a vote against the even more oppressive TPP.

    I am not in support of change vis Trump tactics – Bernie is my change – but isn’t change what the astrological predictions for this decade all about ?

    1. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan

      The idea of a Brexit referendum was not about any trade framework from American politics, but a rebellion against European policies. That is, the austerity policies being practiced under EU to ‘unify’ currency and economies. See Greece, Spain, Ireland…

      The austerity under Cameron and the Tories caused much of this discontent, leading to frustration aggression. That frustration-aggression was played upon by The Brexit campaign, which led to this vote. It generated the emotional response needed to get people to the polls but for the worst of reasons: anti-immigrant sentiment. The Remain campaign was not very adept in selling ‘stay’.

      Both sides appear to have questions regarding UK sovereignty over its money. I would too, and to a large extent that has happened since the start of the UK’s involvement because the UK kept the pound.

      What I see now coming from the Leave leaders is that they did not expect this to come this far. Sorry Boris, sorry Nigel. Can’t Un-break this egg.

  3. Amy Elliott

    Thank you for this excellent article, Fe. I’m grateful for the compassion.

    Well, the re-do petition has apparently now reached two million. For a sense of scale, by our current rules a petition needs 100,000 signatures to trigger a debate in Parliament.

    The Leave campaign leaders have also backtracked very fast on some major promises.

    1. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan Post author

      Hey Amy:

      The redo petition is a hot topic here in the US, and well it should be. Fortunately, Parliament meets Tuesday to put the petition on the floor for discussion. I hope the Remain contingent has its knives sharpened and can get some sense back into the argument. Johnson and Farage should have some very difficult days ahead, the blowhard.

      That this occurs after Mars dashes ahead out of station gives me hope that the fallout of this vote is dissected and examined. Britain does not have to adhere to the results, a 50-50 split should not be a mandate for a nation to break apart and create a dangerous ripple effect across an entire continent and world economies, and that freaking AUSTERITY MEASURES DO NOT WORK. The EU should be looking at that as well, if the “message” of a Brexit is to hit its mark. That message should be the emphasis, it’s a message and not a mandate.

      1. Amy Elliott

        I sincerely hope the petition is taken seriously. It should be, with that many signatures. 2.5 million now. We haven’t seen this level of action since the 2003 anti-war demo.

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