Bracing for a global shiftThe outcome of the closely-watched referendum on June 23 in the United Kingdom to decide whether Britain should stay or leave the European Union became unpredictable after an active lawmaker was killed by a radical purportedly advocating for Britain divorce from the euro zone. Jo Cox, 41-year-old Labor MP was stabbed and shot in the street outside a library in Birstall, West Yorkshire, after her regular constituency surgery. She was pronounced dead on Thursday. Campaign came to full stop as the country became stunned and went into mourning for the young lawmaker a week ahead of the landmark vote.
Although witnesses claim to have heard the suspect, a 52-year-old local known to have had mental health problems, cry out “Britain First” – the name of an anti-EU nationalist group - the motive behind the murder is yet unclear. The media speculate Cox could have become a target from extreme rightist as she campaigned actively for the country to stay within the EU. With suspension in the campaign, some are cautiously predicting a delay in the vote.
The British have become extremely divided and nervy from the critical choice they were put to make. Poll results vary although more have tilted towards Brexit during the last few weeks. The so-called “Remain” campaigners have mounted their attack on the anti-EU camp after the killing. The rest of EU is closely watching the developments and ramification of Cox’s death on the vote.
Resentment and disgruntlement of the working class and the younger generation against the mainstream political parties in the United States and Europe have reached dangerous levels due to widening economic and social inequalities. Nationalistic fervor also has picked up amid terrorism and immigrant concerns, leading to the ascent of ultra-right-wing Donald Trump as a promising presidential candidate and Britain’s exit campaign.
Korea also advanced this far riding on the liberalization and globalization order since the World War II. The decisive turn to the right in the U.S. and Europe should not be regarded entirely as a story of the other side of the world. We must brace ourselves for a change of wind in the global climate.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 18, Page 24
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