Brexit. You’ve heard about it ad nauseum for the past month. That song by the Clash, “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” comes to mind. Global investors have been sitting on pins and needles, forecasting huge financial consequences, while politicians the world over have voiced the fervent hope that Britain remain in the European Union. But what exactly is Brexit? And what does it mean going forward?
By now you know that Brexit is shorthand for “British Exit”— an abbreviation like “Brangelina” or “brunch”. Basically, a bunch of politicians in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) decided that the UK was getting screwed by being a member of the EU—the UK was paying way more than its fair share of dues, and not getting nearly enough benefits to justify the cost. Also, being a member of the EU means that you have to play by its rules: the EU has very specific edicts on economics and immigration, among other things. And those that wanted to leave the EU thought that the UK would be much better off if it could dictate its own rules, stem the tide of immigration, and not have to pay those pesky dues to prop up other struggling EU countries like Greece and Spain.
On the flip side of the coin, those who wanted the UK to remain in the EU argued that leaving would have dire economic consequences, plunging the British economy into recession and virtually ensuring that the UK’s relationship with its trading partners, including the United States, would be driven into the ground. Basically, they threatened the apocalypse.
Cue the gloomy music, my friends, because the apocalypse has arrived. Some 17.4 million citizens of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last Thursday, and now the UK has to divorce itself from the EU without destroying its political and economic relationships in the region. This is no small feat: picture a particularly messy divorce in which one of the parties still has to be best friends with her ex’s family. Caitlyn Jenner and Kris Kardashian (formerly Kris Jenner) come to mind. Let’s call Caitlyn Jenner the UK, and the Kardashian family the European Union. Caitlyn wants out on her terms. She wants to be able to transition and start a new life without the interference of Kris and her brood, because really, all they’ve done for years is suck the life out of her. They’ve told Caitlyn what to wear, what hobbies she can have, who she can be friends with, and Caitlyn is DONE. So she says she’s leaving.
But let’s realistic: Caitlyn knows that, on the whole, the Kardashians have been really good to her. They’ve provided her with the kind of economic security that she really never could have dreamed of achieving on her own. Even though Bruce Jenner was independently famous and wealthy, the strength of the Kardashian brand has given Caitlyn a lot of options she wouldn’t otherwise have and provided her with tremendous financial security. So going forward, she doesn’t want to alienate herself too much from Kim and Kanye. She wants to stay on good terms. Not to mention, Kendall and Kylie are her biological children and she can’t just tell their mother to go eff herself because really, what kind of message would that send?
So Caitlyn makes some very shrewd, calculated moves. She goes on Diane Sawyer to announce her transition and gives fans insight into her new life. She is charming and confident and vulnerable, all at once. In a word, she is lovable, all on her own. Then she does the Vanity Fair article to make it crystal clear that she is no longer part of the Kardashian brand. In it, she slams her ex-wife just enough that people believe that the marriage is really over, and this isn’t some big publicity stunt. This is happening, people. It’s real.
Further highlighting Caitlyn’s independence, she stars in a reality show that showcases just her and the joys and trials she faces as a trans woman. But here’s the really brilliant part to which pro-Brexit politicians should pay close attention: now that she’s shown the world her value on her own, Caitlyn begins to redefine her relationship with the Kardashians. After all, she was part of that family for ages and she helped raise all those kids. She doesn’t want to pretend that her past doesn’t exist, she just wants to move forward on her terms. So she does. She features various members of the Kardashian family just enough that everyone knows she hasn’t completely alienated herself from the fold. She makes appearances at Kanye’s fashion show and goes to Kim’s birthday party and gets lunches with her ex, just to show that there are no hard feelings. And you know what? Everyone looks at Caitlyn and says, good for you, girl. You made a really hard decision and you found a way to be who you really are while still maintaining your connection to that incredibly famous meal-ticket former family of yours. Well done.
As shocking and absurd as it sounds, the UK needs to take a page out of the Caitlyn Jenner playbook. They’ve decided they’re leaving. Fine. Now they have to find a way to stay connected to their meal ticket. The European Union provides incredible access to the global market for the UK, and many countries (the USA included) have stated that the UK would fall to the bottom of the trading queue if they left the EU. Does this mean that I won’t be able to get my LK Bennett’s anymore? Or that Barbour jacket I’ve been coveting for months is going up in price because the UK couldn’t get a good trade deal with the US? EFF NO. Make. It. Stop.
Time for the UK to do some damage control. Meeting with EU leaders this week is a start (think Caitlyn and Kris having lunch at the Ivy to show that there are no hard feelings). After that, UK politicians themselves have to start demonstrating that they have control over the situation and a clear vision going forward. No more infighting in the parties, no more dire predictions from the Treasury Department or Downing Street. The British now have to do what they purport to do well: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Even if you guys are freaking out on the inside, you gotta fake it till you make it, baby. It’s the only way the rest of the world will believe you when you say that this move will actually be better for you in the long run and won’t cause a global meltdown.
And maybe, if you guys can swing it, you should see if you can get front row seats at the Yeezus show. Next to Caitlyn Jenner.