Stay or go? Scholars weigh in, and out, on Brexit

Citizens of Great Britain will vote Thursday on whether to remain part of, or secede from, the European Union.

Brext poster details, pro and con

Details from Brexit campaign materials: Stay in the EU (top) and “Vote Leave” (bottom)

What’s behind the desire of many Britons to exit the EU? And how will the vote’s outcome affect the economy and politics of Europe and the world? Three Berkeley faculty members and a campus graduate weigh in with recent pieces on the Berkeley Blog.

For sociologist Neil Fligstein and Berkeley alumna Alina Polyakova, the turmoil in Great Britain represents a rebirth of nationalism “sweeping across the advanced industrial democracies,” including the United States. Were Britain to opt for Brexit (shorthand for a British exit from the EU), they say, many countries might be prompted to “rethink their commitments to free trade, open borders and maintaining a peaceful Europe.”

Read their post “What the Brexit means to the U.S.

In contrast, international relations expert Bruce Newsome supports the “Vote Leave” faction. In his post, he poses a thought experiment. “Imagine that the U.S. is suddenly a member of a political union across the Americas — from Canada to Chile,” he begins. “Imagine that you were never given a choice to join.” Read his piece, “Americans would choose Brexit.”

For economist Barry Eichengreen, the Brexit referendum is “no laughing matter.” If Britons vote to leave, he says, it will damage Britain’s export competitiveness as well as London’s position as the financial hub of Europe.

Yet if Brexit is ill-advised, Eichengreen says, it’s based in something real: “the failure of the British political class to provide meaningful help to the casualties of globalization.” Read his  opinion piece, originally published by Project Syndicate, here.

View video of a Commonwealth Club discussion — at which Eichengreen and Stanford political scientist Doug Rivers discuss possible fallout from Brexit — below: