Norwegian in London: 'Brexit is dreadful for the UK's unity'

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Norwegian in London: 'Brexit is dreadful for the UK's unity'
Commuters cross the London Bridge on Friday. Photo: DANIEL SORABJI/Scanpix

Welsh-Norwegian reporter Sunniva Davies-Rommetveit writes that Brexit leaves her fearing a new isolationist UK.


I am half Norwegian, half Welsh, so I'm accustomed to two variations of EU membership - the light and strong versions. 
But when the polls came in at 5am to say that the United Kingdom had voted for leave, I knew it would be very bad news not just for the EU, but for the union of Britain. 
When asked by fellow Norwegians where I'm from, I would always say 'Wales' not 'Britain'. I feel Welsh, but I also feel part of two unions - the United Kingdom and the European Union. 
So when the UK took the unprecedented step to leave the EU, I knew that the unity of the United Kingdom would be called into question. Scotland, which rejected independence just two years ago, would be reeling. Why? Because a huge majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU. 
With the Scottish National Party firmly in control in Scotland, former SNP leader Alex Salmond has already said Scotland is likely to push for a second referendum. And, if Scotland does have that vote, chances are that the 44.7 percent of pro-independence Scots will be joined by a whole lot more Scots angry that the United Kingdom they live in does not reflect their European values.
In Northern Ireland, it was the same story. And this could become even more inflammatory, given the previous violent troubles between loyalists and Irish nationalists. Sinn Fein have already called for a vote on Irish unity, which could reignite dormant anger and violent divisions.
As for England and Wales, the underlying Euro-scepticism is down largely to the heartfelt belief that European immigrants are inundating Britain and taking Brits' jobs. Where I grew up in Neath, South Wales, many people lament the loss of industry and of much-needed work after the coal mines shut down.
What the results reveal is a deeply fragmented, broken United Kingdom and there will inevitably be consequences. In the short term, sterling fell off a cliff to its lowest point since 1985. Economic experts are saying that housing prices will fall, the cost of mortgages will go up and companies will up sticks to EU strongholds like Germany.
But what's really worrying will be the years of political and social turmoil in this country following the vote. Prime Minister David Cameron is to step down by October, paving the way for the country to be led by 'Brexiteers'. This will only exacerbate the unrest bubbling underneath the surface in Scotland and Northern Ireland. 
As for me, I still feel half Welsh and half Norwegian. But a huge part of me feels British, while an even bigger part of me feels European. In light of the results, I mourn the UK's new isolationist and insular stance in the international arena and believe the repercussions of this will be felt for many, many years to come.
Sunniva Davies-RommetveitSunniva Davies-Rommetveit is a Welsh-Norwegian reporter based in London. Born in London, raised in Wales and educated at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, she has also spent a lot of her time in Bergen, Norway.


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