Could Brexit Lead To Jamexit From Caricom?


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The UK vote to leave the European Union (EU) ushers in, uncertainness, a period of glorious uncertainty.

Whether one was in the “Leave” or “Remain” camp, the British people are to be highly congratulated for carrying out such a massive and complex exercise with relative ease, the unfortunate killing of one pro-remain Member of Parliament notwithstanding. A careful and rational weighing of the costs and benefits of exiting the EU would indicate that the leave decision is risky at best, with some experts already suggesting that the costs far outweigh the tangible benefits.

The masterfully diplomatic statements by the Jamaican Government do not mask the nervousness here over the prospects of lost benefits, particularly from the aid and trade agreements between Europe and its former colonies in the African, Caribbean and Pacific states.

But voting is not always rational. It involves emotion and some misinformation, which are reinforced by economic hard times that were exploited by pro-leave proponents. Widespread resentment of immigrants, exacerbated by the influx of Middle East refugees into Europe and the danger of more terrorism seemingly, played a big role as well.

Naturally, Britons might feel a greater sense of pride as a stand-alone nation, and they will not have what they deemed as the high cost of being a member of the EU.

But it is difficult not to see the possible adverse consequences of this leave decision in which Britain has effectively opted to be a small island off the coast of Europe, rather than be a major player in the collective sovereignty of the EU.

The entity called the United Kingdom (UK) could splinter because England and Wales voted to leave, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU. There almost certainly will be the demand for a referendum in Scotland on staying or going out of the EU and Great Britain.

Further, there could be a downscaling of London as a global financial centre. In economic, foreign policy and security issues Britain could be marginalised.

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The resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron portends leadership changes in the Conservative Party, and most likely the need for a general election to provide a mandate to someone and some party to lead Britain out of the EU.

The ripple effects will most likely be felt in the EU, as other countries are emboldened to hold their own referendum and possibly opt to leave the bloc, eventually leading to the fragmentation of the EU into several former world powers.

From the standpoint of the Caribbean, the British were our most influential ally in Europe. Now they will not be there to articulate in the EU councils on our behalf. The Caribbean Community (Caricom) will have to pay greater attention to their diplomatic relations with Europe just when the EU has lost interest in the small states of our region.

Finally, the British vote could strengthen those Jamaicans who have been vociferous in their call to leave Caricom. What if the Golding Caricom Review Commission were to recommend a referendum?

If such a referendum were to be held, it is not impossible that Jamaicans would vote in favour of exiting Caricom, as they did in leaving the West Indies Federation.

Jamexit could mean one from 14 leaves zero. It is by no means far-fetched.

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