EU disintegration ‘practically irreversible’ – Soros

Business magnate George Soros © Luke MacGregor
The EU has “ceased to satisfy its citizens’ needs and aspirations,” George Soros said calling on people to “band together to save it.” The billionaire warned the disintegration of the bloc will be almost impossible to avoid.

“Britain eventually may or may not be relatively better off than other countries by leaving the EU, but its economy and people stand to suffer significantly in the short to medium term,” Soros wrote in a commentary on the website Project Syndicate.

“The catastrophic scenario that many feared has materialized, making the disintegration of the EU practically irreversible.”

The financial collapse in the UK in the wake of Thursday's vote has proved to be worse than any crisis over the past three decades. In the space of 10 minutes of trading on Friday, London’s FTSE index lost $164 billion when sterling dropped to its lowest mark in 31 years, trading up to 12 percent lower against the dollar. Ratings agency Standard and Poor's threatened to downgrade the UK’s rating, which is currently triple A.

“Financial markets worldwide are likely to remain in turmoil as the long, complicated process of political and economic divorce from the EU is negotiated," Soros wrote in his post-Brexit-vote analysis, noting that the "consequences for the real economy will be comparable only to the financial crisis of 2007-2008."

He predicted “further uncertainty and political risk, because what is at stake was never only some real or imaginary advantage for Britain, but the very survival of the European project.”

“Brexit will open the floodgates for other anti-European forces within the Union. Indeed, no sooner was the referendum’s outcome announced than France’s National Front issued a call for 'Frexit,' while Dutch populist Geert Wilders promoted 'Nexit.'”

Commenting on the consequences of Brexit, the National Front leader Marine Le Pen said the EU would try to make the whole process of the UK’s exit as “painful as possible,” so that other countries would not want to follow suit. Le Pen maintained it would only lead to an “even greater gap between the EU nations.”

Le Pen said she was “disappointed,” left a meeting with President Francois Hollande with the “feeling of coming for nothing.” The president rejected the idea of holding a vote on France leaving the EU. “We have called for the implementation of a referendum to ask the French if they wish to remain in the European Union,” Le Pen said, TF1 reported. “He responded ‘no’.

In an effort to smooth things over following Britain’s decision to leave the EU, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Paris, Brussels and her own government not to put pressure on the UK by insisting on its immediate departure from the bloc.

"Quite honestly, it should not take ages, that is true, but I would not fight now for a short timeframe," Merkel told a news conference, according to Reuters.

Brexit has immediately sparked numerous calls from right-wing movements in Europe to hold similar referendums.

In Finland over 10,000 people have already signed a freshly launched petition to hold a ‘Fixit’ referendum. Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders said the Netherlands had a right to a ‘Nexit’, while across the Atlantic the US state of Texas said it would push for a ‘Texit’.

READ MORE: Auxit, Frexit, Nexit? EU countries may hold referendums following 'Brexit' vote

The Scottish government agreed to introduce legislation for a second independence vote to protect its position in the EU. Northern Ireland also expressed a strong desire to remain in the bloc. Exasperated by the outcome of the vote, many Londoners say they would prefer to secede from the UK and stay with the EU.

An online petition demanding to hold a second referendum on the UK's EU membership has reached nearly 3 million signatures.

Hundreds of young Brits gathered near the Houses of Parliament in London to express their discontent with the results of the British referendum. Activists carried posters that read ‘Unity is Strength’ and ‘Yes to EU’. Other posters targeted the former London mayor and Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson, who people blame for supporting the separation from the Union.