The whole Western world is in an uproar today in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. In case you haven’t heard, the removal of Britain from the EU is being called “Brexit” (A mashup of “Britain” and “Exit”).
Britain successfully campaigned for membership in the EU in the years following World War II, finally being admitted in 1973. The slim majority (48% of Brits voted to stay) is being viewed as a success for the “Leave” campaigners who have been fighting for removal since 1975. The Brexit advocates have been making the case that the EU depends on the British economy more than the British economy depends on the EU, and that a sovereign Britain is preferable.
Part of the Vision statement from the Leave.Eu website states:
“Imagine not having our laws dictated to us by Brussels. Instead, MPs (Members of Parliament) would become accountable to the public and we would once again be able to make and decide on our own laws,”
If that sentiment sounds familiar to Texans, it’s because it’s almost identical to the rhetoric used by the Texas secessionist movement that has continued to simmer in the Lone Star State for decades. Consider this recent statement on the Texas Nationalist Movement’s website:
“We want to restore the power of self-government and self-determination back to the people of Texas. We believe that Texans are tired of being governed by bureaucrats in Washington that we didn’t elect forcing policies on us that we don’t want. We believe that the people that are best suited to make decisions for Texans are Texans.”
“You could take ‘Britain’ out and replace it with ‘Texas’,” Daniel Miller, President of the Texas Nationalist Movement recently told The Guardian. “You could take ‘EU’ out and replace it with ‘US’. You could take ‘Brussels’ out and replace it with ‘Washington DC’. You could give you guys a nice Texas drawl and no one would know any different. So much of it is exactly the same.”
There are, however, a few, key differences. Membership in the EU is not considered a final arrangement. The countries who make up its constituency retain the right to leave, unlike Texas, whose entrance into the United States via treaty in 1845 does not explicitly allow secession.
Still, many in the secessionist frame of mind may be bolstered by the Brexit decision. Miller certainly believes it will help his cause to grow.
“A Brexit vote would definitely be extraordinarily helpful for us,” Miller told the Houston Chronicle. “Now there are highly visible, highly public first world examples of people able to go to the polls and have an opportunity to determine if they want to stay in a union or leave one.”
Texas secessionists still have quite a ways to go to succeed in achieving even the slim majority that brought about Brexit. Despite the fact that support for the organization grew enough to be brought up at the Texas Republican Convention this past May, the Texas Nationalist Movement claims to have only 261,231 supporters. So, out of the more than 27 million Texans, that’s roughly .9%.
Aside from possibly exciting more secessionist talk, the Brexit may have other effects on Texas. In 2015, the Texas Comptroller’s Office released an article claiming that Britain is Texas’s largest foreign investor (think BAE Systems and BP for reference). If the British economy suffers, it could possibly effect the energy industry in Texas, which, with the recent drop in oil prices, is already suffering. As to an overall effect on Americans, the Washington Post surmised that Brexit could have an effect on American mortgage rates and retirement (401k) funds.
As of now, it may be too soon to tell whether Brexit will be a tempest, or simply much ado about nothing.