For many, the momentous referendum decision to leave the EU is still sinking in. Three weeks on, having had time to reflect, four Ahmadi Muslim students provide their views on the events of the past few months and their potential implications for the future.
This referendum can be referred to as many things but an ‘EU referendum’ it was not; a ‘referendum of misinformation’ maybe or perhaps the ‘Immigration referendum’. From the discourse that has followed this seismic decision, something else is also becoming abundantly clear.
For years, the political elite have neglected the people whom they were elected to serve. Self-interest, party-interest and every other interest has been prioritised ahead of the interests of the public. As a result, a generation of younger voters have grown up disillusioned and uninterested in the goings on at Westminster. Many of them have never exercised their right to vote and Thursday was no different. Not only this, but a generation of older voters have also become disillusioned and uninterested in the goings on at Westminster. After years of engaging with a political process that was meant to better their lives and which has instead thoroughly disowned them, they too finally expressed their disgust.
Nobody can deny (nor is anybody trying to) that the focus of talk on the streets of the United Kingdom was immigration. But equally as often, people spoke of neglect, of ‘having had enough’ and of wanting to make a point. In the early hours of Friday morning it became apparent that a point had indeed been made. It echoed right across the heart of England, from Stoke-on-Trent through to the streets of county Durham. But the question still remains: did those in power take heed?
Well a noise that should surely have brought the walls of Westminster crashing down has so far resulted in more political process and squabbling, point-scoring and pandering. The clamour was for change, a change in outlook and in attitude. Naturally, politics obliged, responding in the only way it knew how; the curtain was brought down on one Prime Minister only for a replica to step in to his shoes.
On 23rd June 2016, the youth replied to the disregard shown by the political class towards the public with abstention while the remainder made their voices heard through rebellion. This was a Referendum of Rebellion. A rebel vote cast in the hope that maybe, just maybe, it would bring change. Well, the advice based on the current evidence is very simple. Don’t. Hold. Your. Breath.
Abdul Ghalib Khan- Vice President AMSA UK, Co-host of the Morning Show for Voice of Islam
It was a terribly sad day for the UK and we may not even yet realise the true effects of this momentous decision until much later. Leave voters in Manchester expressed their own shock, saying even they didn’t actually think the UK would leave. Perhaps it was more about expressing their frustration at the state of affairs of the country and their individual discontent. The EU was almost made a scapegoat, a conflation of everything wrong with the country. Immigration, economy and politics. Stepping out of the EU wasn’t going to solve these issues but it became a way for people to show their frustration.
With the domino effect beginning immediately, one was saddened to see how Cameron, who clearly loved this country, resigned, feeling he could not be the ‘captain’ to lead the UK out of the EU but respected the will of the people like a true servant of the public. Up north, where mostly Scotland voted to remain, Sturgeon assured us that a 2nd Scottish referendum was ‘highly likely’ and with ‘Frexit’ fears amidst, not to speak of the sudden downturn in the markets, one is left wondering, what have we just done?
Atif Rashid- HuffPost blogger
23rd June will not go down as the United Kingdom’s Independence Day. The effect of ‘Brexit’ is still very much in the early stages and as the global economy comes to terms with its harsh reality, one thing is for certain: it will prove to be damaging for both the UK and the European Union. Decades of negotiating trade agreements and a status as one of the leading economies of the EU has been undone. It will take the UK many years to rebuild, if that will be at all possible. For the EU, all the emphasis they have placed on integration and building an ever closer union has been damaged severely by Brexit, which has left the door open to other countries who may feel they can choose to abandon ship too. The EU lost a major trading partner and a key contributor, which accounts for nearly a fifth of their GDP, whilst the UK essentially severed ties with an economy it does more than 50% of its trade with. The ramifications are vast, with growth, trade and global authority being just a few of the concerns of both parties. A further break up could very well be a possibility, more so for the UK, since Scotland has made it crystal clear they wish to remain in the EU. If Article 50 is triggered, it could result in a second Scottish referendum, which means UK’s decision to leave the EU isn’t just about leaving the single market but about dividing Great Britain itself.
Brexit has divided parties and the nation as two thirds of the parliament is at a disagreement with the public’s decision to leave. The bottom line is this: you don’t leave a political decision of such great importance and complexity in the hands of the public. The reason we have democratically elected members of the parliament is so that they make the big decisions through their own calculated and educated judgement rather than leave it up to the public who are frankly naïve about the consequences of its decision to leave the single market. If a Brexit government comes into place, it could spell doom for Great Britain. The only glimmer of hope for the pro-Europeans is to pray a Prime Minister comes into power that is in favour of staying in the single market. A nightmare for any sane minded human being would be a Brexit government and a Donald Trump Presidency, both of which looked impossible only a few months ago.
Haroon Khan- Chair of AMSA Surrey, student of Economics
As I set out a few weeks ago, there were several strong potential arguments that the Brexit campaign offered. Unfortunately, much of the campaign was driven by blind, merciless xenophobia, which culminated in UKIP’s infamous anti-migrant ‘Breaking Point’ poster. To leave the EU with the voices of hatred ringing in our ears is an unsettling feeling for many.
Indeed, if Brexit had no wider implications for Europe and the world as a whole, then the concept of regaining the complete power to make our own laws would be an attractive prospect. The EU as an organisation in its current form possesses many problems, however over the past decades it has undoubtedly succeeded in maintaining peace across the continent. For the UK to leave, therefore, symbolises an attitude of defiance to the rest of Europe. It symbolises that it perceives its own interests as superior to the interests of the wider global community. It symbolises that rather than attempting to positively impact upon the fragile cohesive unit that is the EU, it is prepared to risk its very existence for the sake of maintaining its own borders.
Despite the exaggeration, hyperbole, and in many cases outright lies, the Leave campaign highlighted legitimate problems with the EU. However leaving it completely should never have been heralded as the solution. The UK has set off a ripple, and before long the ripple could become a wave and the wave become a tsunami. Intolerance, disunity and blind nationalism are growing in strength, and if we are not careful, like a rising tide, the disturbances they create could wash us away completely.
Damir Rafi- University of Birmingham AMSA co-ordinator, HuffPost blogger, medical student