What Does 'Brexit' Mean For Malta?
Besides the loss of mini-Mallorca (better known as Buġibba).
The notion of the UK leaving the EU, (better know as ‘Brexit’), is fast becoming a real possibility. The outcome of this Thursday's referendum, be it 'leave' or 'remain', will have serious ramifications that will be felt globally.
I’ve come across a plethora of different analogies as to what will happen if the UK had to vote ‘Leave’ during this month’s referendum on EU membership. The one I believe most accurately portrays such a prospect, is the following depiction – “we have all been on a night out with that mate who when you are in a club says it’s shit here, let’s go somewhere else. Then, when you leave you realise he has no idea where to go, the place you left won’t let you back in. Without a decent follow up plan, a leave vote could see the UK standing in a kebab shop arguing about who’s fault it is.”
"Malta has been listed as one of the countries most vulnerable to the ramifications of a Great Britain outside the EU."
The desire for the UK to stand out on its own is palpable, not only on BBC debates and British newspapers, but also in the streets of Marseille. “Fuck off Europe, we’re all voting out”, were the words chanted by English fans ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 opening game against Russia last Saturday. Even more worryingly though, a survey conducted over the weekend by The Guardian and ICM, showed the strengthening of support for a UK outside the EU, with the polls reporting a six-point lead for the Brexit camp.
Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, came out and said this week that a Brexit could be “the beginning of the destruction not only of the EU but also of the whole Western political civilisation”. David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has also previously stated that a Brexit would increase the risk of Europe descending into war and the European project would suffer dearly, should the UK decide to leave the EU. While I do not believe that a Brexit will lead to the ultimate destruct of Western civilization as we know it, I do agree that a UK outside the EU could adversely affect how we go about our daily lives. Given this potential outcome therefore, what would a Brexit mean for Malta?
"Should we not threaten to deport a significant population of St Paul’s Bay, when [we] face the prospect of being kicked out of Brixton?"
Malta has been listed as one of the countries most vulnerable to the ramifications of a Great Britain outside the EU. A recent Fitch Ratings report highlighted that a Brexit could lead to a potential recession and consequently, a further drop in the value of the British pound. This will negatively affect the Maltese economy, bringing about a fall in the number of British tourists holidaying in Malta and a decrease in the investments in the UK by financial institutions operating on our island. On the other hand, this might finally be the moment we have all been waiting for Buġibba to lose its resemblance to a mini-Mallorca.
The rights of Maltese living in the UK will also be put into question. A UK outside the EU will mean that a Maltese national will no longer automatically be legally allowed to live and work in the EU and vice-versa. The Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, has jokingly said that the he will not kick British nationals out. But come on. Should we not threaten to deport a significant population of St Paul’s Bay, when our family and friends face the prospect of being kicked out of their shabby apartments in Brixton?
Maltese students wanting to study in the UK will too likely suffer. The many Maltese planning to study in a UK university next year may not be entitled to the same reduced EU tuition fees currently offered to Maltese nationals, and may need to look elsewhere in seeking an opportunity to study aboard. Although, this might actually be a blessing in disguise for our students. The weather in Barcelona is much better than that of the UK and have often heard it’s a great destination to study.
The UK has also been a strong ally at the EU negotiating table for Malta. A Malta without the UK may find it difficult to make its voice heard and will no longer be able to rely on the UK to have its back when defending itself against contentious issues for our country. Moreover, can you imagine an EU run solely by the French and Germans without the renowned British pragmatism? Definitely not ideal!
The head organiser of the Glastonbury festival has called on all those eligible to vote to go out and exercise their democratic duty by voting in the referendum. Before you set off to the festival and plant the Maltese flag outside your tents, I would encourage you to contact your Maltese and British friends in the UK, and urge them to vote (as a nationals from a country that is a member of the Commonwealth, the Maltese are also entitled to vote). The last thing anyone at Glastonbury would want is to wake up barely alive on the Friday after the referendum, only to discover that they might not be able to attend next year's so easily.