To the shock of much the world, Britons voted to leave the European Union (EU) on Wednesday, marking the largest blow to the multi-national political body since its foundation.

Spearhead largely by the fringe rightwing, the “leave” campaigners imbued their rhetoric with racist undertones, invoking immigration and refugees as reasons for Britain to withdraw from engagement with the European continent.

While there are certainly problems with the massive bureaucracy of the EU, the consequences of leaving are already in full force. The British pound hit a 31 year-low, as Britain fell from its place as the world’s fifth biggest economy and the FTSE 100 in London lost an astonishing £122 billion of value overnight. Abroad, the economic ramifications reverberated through markets everywhere, including in the United States, where the Down Jones average plummeted more than 500 points.

To further compound the issues facing Britain, there are renewed separatist stirrings within Scotland. Additionally, Sinn Féin – the Irish Republican party – has called for polling in Northern Ireland to gauge interest in unifying with Ireland. Both the populations of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted in favor of staying within the EU.

While Northern Ireland is unlikely to leave Britain anytime soon, the great surge in interest that the Scottish National Party (the leading driver for Scottish independence) has enjoyed in the wake of this week’s referendum indicates that the country may buck Great Britain and rejoin the EU of its own accord. This hypothetical disintegration within Great Britain would leave a greatly diminished England, with significantly less economic and geopolitical might.

Brexit is bad news for the Social Good. The European project – while imperfect – represents an ideal in which nations work together to forge solutions to issues facing the globe. With the number of displaced people and refugees at world historic highs, the threat of climate change growing by the day, and regional instabilities in Eastern Europe, the fracturing cooperation among European nations is a dark omen for what lies ahead.

If Google searches count for anything, many Britons are already regretting their vote. It appears, in fact, that many voters didn’t fully understand the EU when they went to the polls. The energy behind the “leave campaign” was largely derived from racist fear-mongering, as well as a distrust of elites and experts who warned of the consequences of Brexit. As Britain progresses along the rough road ahead, perhaps enough of its electorate will have a change of heart and reembrace international cooperation – if only for Britain’s own wellbeing.


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