This Summer, The British Weather Could Change The World

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What is the “Brexit”?

On the 23rd of June, 2016, the people of the United Kingdom will go to the voting booths for a simple In or Out vote on whether or not the Kingdom should remain part of the European Union. The vote might be a simple Yes or No, but deciding which side to go with has been anything but simple.

Both the “Remain” Campaign and the “Leave” campaign have been lining up experts and politicians to argue their case. The majority of established major politicians have lined up behind the Remain campaign, but a few politicians with major household names have gone all in for the Leave campaign.

As someone who grew up in the UK, I have been paying close attention to the referendum. I can see the points of both sides of the argument, but as I grew up in London, one element to this campaign is more interesting than any other, that is the elements themselves. Will the famous British weather have a major impact on the vote, and by association the world as we know it?

If you want to know more about the Referendum, the BBC has gone into great detail explaining what is happening. The BBC itself has been caught up in some controversy over the referendum. The media organization is funded through a Television Tax. If you have a TV in the UK, you must pay for your TV license, that in turn funds the BBC.

The organization has all sorts of restrictions on government intervention, that for the most part differentiates it from other State-run media companies, but this has not stopped accusations of bias from being hurled at BBC News.

What are the Polls Saying? 

The Economist has launched a poll tracker, using weighted averages from a number of mainstream polls. At present, the Remain campaign is leading with 47% , the Leave campaign trails with 40%, and 10% of those polled are still undecided. However, as little as ten days ago, the Remain and Leave campaigns were tied. With nearly a month left to campaign, the result is still anyone’s guess.

EU Referendum PollingImage Source: The Economist

Who are the Most Motivated “Brexit” Voters? 

This is where everything gets interesting. While current polls show a majority of those who intend to vote are backing the Remain campaign, a Telegraph poll looked at who was more likely to vote.

According to their poll, 79% of those intending to back a “Brexit” say they are certain to vote, with 72% of Remain voters saying the same.

They also found that “when likelihood to vote is taken into account, the Leave campaign would win on 52 percent of the vote, with remain trailing on 45 per cent.”

Thus, it can be fairly deduced that backers of the Leave campaign are more motivated on the issue. However, the same poll showed that the overwhelming majority of those polled (76%) believed that the UK would remain within the EU.

When likelihood to vote is taken into account, the Leave campaign would win on 52 percent of the vote, with remain trailing on 45 per cent.” – The Telegraph

One thing is certain, nobody is 100% sure which way this vote will go, it could end up being very close, a major event could quickly turn the referendum on its head, or perhaps nothing major, just some regular old British weather.

What Does Weather Do to Voter Turnout?

If the assumption that Leave voters are more motivated to vote is true, then they will be hoping that voter turnout is low. If only the most motivated of voters show up, a Leave vote is very likely.

Weather.com has done an analysis on the voter turnout in the US with regards to the weather. No strong study has ever been conducted in the UK. The weather.com report does show a drop off in voting with extreme or poor weather. Furthermore, the biggest differential was adverse driving conditions. While the US is more of a driving country than the UK, weather delays are not uncommon for the UK’s public transport system, and the vast majority of the country outside of London, drive or take the bus to work.

A Dutch study came to a similar conclusion regarding the weather and voter turnout.

“We find that the weather parameters indeed affect voter turnout. Election-day rainfall of roughly 25 mm (1 inch) reduces turnout by a rate of one percent, whereas a 10-degree-Celsius increase in temperature correlates with an increase of almost one percent in overall turnout. One hundred percent sunshine corresponds to a one and a half percent greater voter turnout compared to zero sunshine.”

What are the Possible Knock-on Effects of a Brexit?

Why does this matter to the rest of the world? Without stepping too far into the abyss that is “Fearmongering” there is and should be a legitimate concern for the stability of the world’s largest economy. The European Union has had a difficult eight years, still yet to fully recover from the global financial crisis of 2007-8. The old continent is divided on economic policy, and to some extent, the British are seen as a middle ground between the fiscally conservative Germans and the financially liberal-minded French.

Furthermore, with the well-publicized movement of migrants and refugees fleeing war zones and economic disaster zones in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe is seeing border walls raised for the first time since the continent tore itself apart during the horrors of WWII.

The largest economy in the world, the second biggest exporter (After China) and the second biggest importer (After The United States) is already fragile. The voters of the United Kingdom are deciding on whether or not leaving will be good for their country, but the member states of the EU will be certain to feel the brunt of a Brexit, whatever the impact is to the UK.

The Polish President has already warned of a possible collapse of the Union should the Uk Leave, “We think it would lead to a big crisis and even a collapse (Of The European Union) if the UK left,” Admittedly, Poland does currently benefit from a financial surplus with the EU, but his statements are surely the most aggressive, any EU leader has made on the issue.

Yet, consider the thoughts of EU voters, one poll showed that in the big 8 economies of Europe nearly half of polled voters would like to be given a referendum on whether or not to remain in the European Union.

Furthermore, there have already been murmurs of dissent from the Swedish, many of whom consider the British allies in the conversation against protectionism. And the Swedes aren’t even the most dissatisfied with the Union. In an extensive EuroStat poll, five countries when asked if “Generally speaking is the EU a good thing?” showed less than 50% positive sentiments to the Union.

chart EU good or badImage Source: Spector

The European Union has for the most part been a driving force of stability, consumer demand, immigration, and to an extent, innovation over the past 50 years. If the world has learned anything from the 07/08 financial crisis, is that major events in one part of the world have significant effects on the world as a whole. The British are and should be voting for their own interests, but the rest of the world could face the consequences. If the referendum ends up being close, world leaders might suddenly realize that typical British weather just changed the world.


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