Brits were fed up with Brussels telling them which cucumbers met European Union beauty standards and could therefore be sold in market. That was minor compared to fishing quotas placed on waters the British considered to be their own. Then there were the payments to subsidize weaker EU economies. In short, Britain was losing its sovereignty, and many didn’t like it.
British Prime Minister David Cameron took what appeared to be a well-calculated gamble to settle the issue. On February 20, 2016, he announced he would let the people decide whether to remain in the European Union or to leave it. “He said he would be campaigning to remain in a reformed EU—and described the vote as one of the biggest decisions ‘in our lifetimes’” (“EU Referendum: Cameron sets June date for UK vote,” BBC.com, February 20, 2016).
The referendum was set for June 23, 2016. The colorful former London Mayor Boris Johnson, flame-throwing firebrand Nigel Farage, and MP Michael Gove led the “Leave” forces, but the bet was that in the end, people would stick with the status quo rather than take a leap into the dark of an uncertain future. Few believed the British would do it. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wanted Britain to stay within the union, but refused to stand with Cameron, hoping rather to bring down the Conservatives and make his own “Remain” deal.
I was in Brussels the evening of the vote, enjoying a Belgian-style burger at an outdoor restaurant near the EU Parliament. Toward the end of the meal, it was clear that a large thunderstorm was brewing, and my colleague and I decided it was time to leave—and none too soon. His satellite navigation system warned him just in time to exit off a major four-lane highway or be tied up for hours due to downed trees, severed power lines, and flooding. It was a violent storm.
Back in my hotel in Charleroi, I turned on the television to see the latest news. Both Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage expressed their disappointment that Brexit would come up short. That was the consensus of the hour. With the one-hour difference in time zones and the polls closing late, I decided to wait until morning to hear the inevitable.
The violent storm that hit the Brussels area the night of the vote was nothing compared to the storm that hit Britain and the EU the next morning. Britons had done the unthinkable. They voted to leave the EU.
A divorce is rarely easy and usually not simple. Serving divorce papers is one thing. Working through the details is quite another. England and Wales voted Leave, but Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Gibraltar voted Remain. As recently as 2014, the Scottish National Party had called for a referendum to leave the not-always-united United Kingdom. The Scottish threat to divorce the UK and hitch their wagon to Europe is not a matter of idle words. How to solve the border issue between the Republic of Ireland, which remains in the EU, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, remains a “sticky wicket.”
The Brexit crisis deepened this past January. The deal Prime Minister Theresa May made with the EU had to be ratified by Parliament, but Parliament voted “no deal” to the agreement by a stunning margin of 432 to 202. “Brexiteers” claim the deal brokered by Prime Minister May—now rejected—would have tied the UK to the EU indefinitely, but without any influence over EU rules. They believe that accepting that deal would have been worse than staying in the EU, a point with which the “Remainers” agree. The result was a dramatic defeat for the exit plan.
Many in North America fail to see the dangers brewing on the other side of the Atlantic. Will some kind of agreement between Britain and the European Union be cobbled together at the last hour? Or will there be no deal, what some call a “hard Brexit”? The answers will likely be much clearer by the time you read this, but no matter which way the worm turns, one thing is almost certain: Britain’s counterbalance to power on the continent, and its moderating influence, will be severely diminished.
Questions abound. What will happen to the British economy? There are differences of opinion, and only time will provide the answer. What will happen to the German economy? Twenty percent of Germany’s car exports went to Britain in 2016. An Irish Times article published this prediction on the eve of the January 16 parliamentary vote: “A no-deal Brexit could bring chaos to Germany’s crucial manufacturing and exporter sectors” (“Germany’s united front on Brexit crumbles ahead of London’s Tuesday vote” IrishTimes.com, January 15, 2019). Cyprus Mail Online chimed in, “‘The consequences of a “no deal” would be fatal,’ German auto industry association VDA said after the vote” (“German carmakers warn hard Brexit would be ‘fatal,’” Cyprus-Mail.com, January 16, 2019).
If the German economy tanks, what effect will that have on weaker European economies? Note this very sobering conclusion to a report titled “All or Nothing” from German-Foreign-Policy.com:
In the case of the “hard” Brexit, German industry stands to suffer losses in the double-digit billions.… The German government banks on an “all or nothing” policy—a maxim that has remained a characteristic feature of Berlin’s foreign policy for nearly 150 years, which has twice plunged Germany into collapse, not to mention the damage caused to neighboring countries (December 13, 2018, emphasis added).
The record shows that this Work has predicted for decades, based on Bible prophecy, that Britain will not be part of the end-time Beast power that will rise in Europe shortly before Jesus Christ returns. Britain may be somehow part of a greater economic union, but it will not be part of the union of ten “kings,” who will be “of one mind, and… will give their power and authority to the beast.” That union will be very short-lived. It may look good at the beginning, but will result in destruction on a massive scale, and only come to a complete end when the King of kings returns to save mankind from self-inflicted annihilation (Revelation 17:12–14; Matthew 24:21–22).
Bible prophecy reveals that there will be ten “kings” (rulers or possibly countries) in Europe who “will give their power and authority to the Beast” at the end of the age (Revelation 17:12–13). It also reveals that this alliance will be fragile (Daniel 2:41–43). Germany is none other than the modern descendant of ancient Assyria and will be at the heart of this end-time power block. (For further details, see our July-August 2018 article “What Is Prophesied for Germany?”) On the other hand, the United Kingdom is part of the house of Israel. This is explained in greater detail in our eye-opening publication The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy.
Countries normally do not “give their power and authority” to another nation. A crisis is coming that will cause the European Union, as we know it, to be transformed. The Trump administration is pushing Germany to spend more on defense and has threatened to pull out of NATO. As the cliché goes, “Be careful what you wish for.”
On January 7, the business section of The Telegraph asked a sobering question in one of its articles: “Is this the year the world falls apart?” After laying out the facts and musing that the world will likely muddle through 2019, the article ends by saying, “The Western liberal order we took for granted at the end of the Cold War is under existential threat,” and noting the summary provided by one global analyst group: “We’re setting ourselves up for trouble down the road. Big trouble.” The wise will be watching as these puzzle pieces continue to come together.