Former UK and EU citizens reflect on what Brexit means to them
COLUMBIA — Roughly 52 percent of people in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in a referendum Thursday. The implications of this decision have since been a major talking point around the globe.
In Boone County, residents and former EU citizens offered their reactions.
Andrew Clement, a former U.K. citizen, moved to the United States 4 years ago. He lives now in Columbia with his wife, who grew up in the area.
Clement was 7 years old when the United Kingdom joined the European Union in 1975.
"So for me, being European was just part of being British as well," Clement said.
Clement spent the first 18 years of his life in Essex, a county northeast of London that touches the North Sea. 62 percent of the county voted to leave the EU, according to the BBC.
That did not surprise Clement, who said his hometown has more "right-wing influence."
Supporters of the U.K.'s "Vote Leave" campaign backed up their position by saying the European Union poses a threat to U.K. sovereignty and EU regulations and financial commitments are too burdensome.
Leave voters also tended to show a distaste for the Euro (the common currency of the EU), and a dissatisfaction with the handling of the migrant crisis.
Unlike most voters where he grew up, Clement identifies as pro-European.
Pro-Europeans like Clement argued that the continued membership would give UK citizens greater travel, work and study opportunities, promote peace in a post World War era, cut red tape and benefit consumers with fewer international fees.
"For my generation and the subsequent ones, the fact that we could go anywhere in Europe and work anywhere in Europe even if you didn't take it up you had that opportunity, and that's a great freedom to have," Clement said.
After Essex, Clement moved to Scotland for 16 years. This is where he met his wife as part of a study abroad program.
62 percent of voters in Scotland voted to stay in the EU. A beneficiary of many EU subsidies, the country is expected to vote in their own referendum on whether to leave the U.K. If Scottish voters chose to leave, the country would have the freedom to apply for EU membership.
In Northern Ireland, "Remain" won by 30 percentage points. The British territory of Gibraltar voted almost unanimously with 95.9 percent voting to stay in the EU. Immediately after the results, Spain demanded co-sovereignty with Britain over the territory.
Before moving to the United States, Clement lived in London for five years. London voted to remain with 59 percent.