Atlantan's on-ground take on Brexit

Mark Burkhalter, the former Speaker and Speaker Pro Tempore of the Georgia House of Representatives, is a Senior Advisor in Public Policy and Regulation for Dentons who shares his time between London and Atlanta.

On July 4th, 1776, the Continental Congress took a step that American Colonists never dreamed possible. They signed a Declaration of Independence from their homeland Britain after the 13 colonies of the United States settled in America to escape the heavy hand of King George III.

With that, American patriotism emerged into nationalism.

Last week’s declaration of freedom in the United Kingdom came when citizens here voted to sever ties to a different overbearing partner – the European Union. The vote by the British people to Brexit the EU will be as empowering for the UK as Independence Day was for the United States.

Just as in 1776, some are having a hard time coming to grips with such a bold move. Those who lost control are offering every excuse from the lack of support of young voters to the need for a second referendum. Denial can be powerful, but the sooner all of Europe and the world comes to grips with the fact that much of England is embracing patriotism and freedom, the sooner markets will settle down.

The British want what’s best for their country and know the EU does not. They know that ceding power to a faceless bureaucracy far away does not have their best interest at heart.

As of today, it is more difficult for a business or citizen of a British Commonwealth such as Bermuda or New Zealand to travel or do business in London than for EU members such as Hungary, Portugal or Romania. The EU’s red tape is not friendly to British needs. That’s one more reason Brexit was a no-brainer for voters.

So as Brexit becomes more of a reality, the pundits, politicians and markets will have to adjust to one thing they got completely wrong: the British people have a much different view of their world than the ruling class.

Let us consider this: The United States would never have agreed to a consortium of nations in our hemisphere overruling our laws and courts. Our nation would never permit Brazil, Mexico, Cuba and others to create or overrule energy policy, taxation, immigration or legal matters. To cede such power is just anathema to a democratic system. Government closer to home always works best.

As a result of Brexit, Atlanta and other international business centers are anxious about the impact of fluctuations in the pound and changes in trade deals. But we need to take a deep breath and look at history to see that we can return to pre-1993 EU with only a few bumps in the road.

For centuries, Britain had a strong influence across the globe as the sun never set on the reach of the British Empire. Even today, former colonies such as Canada, South Africa, Australia and the United States remain fierce trading partners with the UK.

The world’s strongest economies really don’t care if the UK is part of the EU. Most nations will continue to sell goods and services to Great Britain and other European nations despite the internal EU squabbling.

Change is never easy. Great Britain and the entire western world were shocked when our 13 colonies dared to declare independence and move forward due to rising patriotism and nationalism in 1776. As the UK patriots do the same by decoupling from the EU, they will secure a new path to prosperity. A stronger Britain will make a better partner for all of Europe and the world.