By Dr. Jerry A. Johnson
LONDON — Great Britain is leaving the European Union. A confirmed Anglophile, I’ve been coming here annually since the ’90s, both as a student and a professor, and expect I will continue to for many years to come. In the future, it will be a newly independent Great Britain that I will be visiting.
Having arrived Thursday to lead the Intercollegiate National Religious Broadcasters’ Oxford Distinguished Scholars Program, I was delighted that I could be on the ground in London the very day Britons went to the polls to vote on the Brexit referendum, in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU. The atmosphere has been electric. I just heard an old English veteran say, “I’ve got my country back.”
The ramifications of this referendum will be felt for weeks, months, indeed for years to come. Already, British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced his resignation as the government begins to take steps to follow the will of the voters. The ramifications, however, clearly reach far beyond 10 Downing Street and Brussels.
What does the Brexit vote mean for Great Britain, the United States, and the rest of the world? Briefly, here are my initial observations made while in London:
First, as voters prepare for elections in America, the British voters have reminded us of the responsibility of self-government and the power of the people, through the ballot box, to change course when needed. It is refreshing and thrilling to see this firsthand in England.
Second, the Brexit result should be a caution against current trends to bind the USA economically and legally to international bodies. The EU was passing laws and regulations that controlled and hurt almost every aspect of British life, but the UK could not even vote on these measures in Parliament. The Brits were gradually losing national sovereignty and self-determination. Happily, they have regained their independence with this remarkable victory. Moving forward, this is a good time for the USA and Great Britain to begin renewal of the special relationship we have enjoyed in the past.
Third, this was about more than business. The EU constitution is completely devoid of any reference to God – it is entirely secular. The British government and culture are actually based upon Judeo-Christian principles. We should pray that British Christianity will be truly revived and used by God to bring a spiritual awakening to Great Britain. America needs this kind of awakening, too.
Fourth, Great Britain has been forced by EU policy to take in large numbers of migrants from other EU countries, which are admitting massive numbers of Muslims. A disturbing number of these immigrants are Sharia supremacists or Islamists. At some point, the center does not, and cannot, hold. There is a limit to how much of this kind of mass immigration a country and culture can take before the people say “enough is enough.” This reality is an undercurrent in America now. It is not racism or xenophobia or un-Christian, and US politicians would be wise to take note.
Finally, beware the polls, even Election Day “exit polls.” As balloting closed Thursday, the UK media were all predicting a “remain” victory by 4 percent based on exit polls. Actually, “leave” won by 4 percent, a margin of over 1.2 million votes. That means the exit poll projections were off by 8 percent. We should always work to do the right thing and not be discouraged by the pollsters. They are often wrong.
And added to this, be patient and persistent when you know your cause is right. Lord Malcolm Pearson, my friend and one-time leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), was among the first to advocate Britain’s exit from the EU and has worked many years for this day.
Congratulations to Malcolm, and other “leave” champions like Daniel Hannan, and the current UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who proclaimed, “Let June 23 go down in our history as our Independence Day!”
Dr. Jerry A. Johnson is President & CEO of National Religious Broadcasters
Published: June 24, 2016