Britain chooses nostalgia, fear over global relevance

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Former London Mayor, Boris Johnson during a press conference in central London on June 24, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Stefan Rousseau

Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London and key champion of the Leave movement, conveyed great optimism following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU). He said, “…we can find our voice in the world again, a voice commensurate with the fifth-biggest economy on earth.” And if left to Johnson, that voice will be English-speaking.

While Johnson promoted Britain’s departure from the EU as a defense of its culture and democracy, he previously touted the fact that London’s residents speak more than 300 languages. As The New York Times today reported, “It was anxiety of immigration … that defined and probably swung the campaign [for Britain to exit the European Union].” Johnson can’t have it both ways. Immigration is essential for London and the rest of Britain to remain globally relevant.

Britain’s decision to exit the European Union ultimately flies in the face of growth strategies in a global economy. As Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, once asserted, growth on the international stage requires communities to “attract people from around the world.”

Bloomberg continues, “If you’re going to build products for the world, you gotta know what the world looks like. If you’re sitting someplace where there’s nothing to do other than lift weights, run, ride your bicycle, and play golf, it’s hard to understand how the rest of the world functions.”

Based on Bloomberg’s outlook, at least Britain is set up for playing golf. Donald Trump, the GOP’s presumptive nominee, spent the morning after the vote in Scotland promoting his golf course, calling it “one of the most spectacular properties in the world.” After all, for Mr. Trump, fixing sprinklers, luxury suites, and drainage systems are akin to rebuilding the economy, combating international terrorism, and creating a more sustainable energy infrastructure.

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