The British EU referendum resulted in a majority voting for a British exit out of the EU: Brexit. Dagens Nyheter writes that the referendum marks a “dark day” for the EU. It suggests that the most scary side effect of Brexit is that it may serve as a boost for anti-EU sentiment across Europe, which may also lead to increasing anti-immigration sentiment. Alexandra Ivanov writes for Svenska Dagbladet that Brexit reflects deep-rooted problems in the EU. She cites an opinion poll by the British businessman and politician, Lord Ashcroft, which shows that those with full or part-time jobs overwhelmingly voted to remain, while those on the peripheries of society in the UK voted to leave. The EU must tackle many challenges if it is to survive, writes Ivanov. Katrin Marcal argues in Aftonbladet that most of the Leave campaign’s propaganda was, in fact, built upon lies, or half-truths. She writes that the Leave campaign conjured up an image that if the UK left the EU, the country would regain “control”. In reality, the pound crashed, the British prime minister resigned, the opposition Labour party was plunged into crisis, and France took over the UK’s place as the world’s fifth largest economy, writes Marcal.
In an opinion piece published in Dagens Industri, the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt (M), claims that the defeat of Prime Minister David Cameron in the EU referendum is the single most significant event in Europe since the fall of the Berlin wall. Bildt argues that British domestic politics has been turned upside down, and a “Balkanisation” of the United Kingdom is no longer unthinkable. This is not in Europe’s interest, writes Bildt, since further fragmentation of Europe will lead to a less stable continent. He says that the creation of the EU led to former enemies becoming trade partners and Europe might look very different today without it. Sweden must actively work towards a future where such division and separation is avoided, writes Bildt. “We must realise that the European cooperation is more necessary than ever today. The stakes are higher now. We must take Europe seriously,” he concludes.
Four ways Swedish policy could be affected by Brexit
What will Brexit mean for Sweden, and Swedish politics? Svenska Dagbladet’s political commentator, Göran Eriksson, lists four areas where Swedish policy and politics could be affected by the outcome of the British EU referendum. Firstly, Sweden’s position in the EU will be weakened, because it is losing a close ally in the bloc: Sweden and the UK agree on many issues and often vote similarly in the EU. Second, Swedish EU scepticism will get a boost. The xenophobic and anti-EU party, the Sweden Democrats, are already cheering on Brexit, in hope that it will inspire a similar development in Sweden. Thirdly, the EU itself may well become an area of conflict in Swedish politics, because many parties in other member states have increasingly nationalist agendas. Finally, if Brexit encourages more member states want to leave the union, Sweden’s relationship towards the EU may change drastically. The more the union changes, the easier it will be for EU sceptics in Sweden to argue for a revised relationship between the EU and Sweden.
Wallström: A dark day for the EU
Swedish ministers are taking the UK’s decision to leave the EU very seriously. SVT reports that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström (S), referred to Brexit as a “a dark day”, while the Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven (S), emphasised that it brought a range of challenges that the EU must now tackle. “This is not what I had hoped for. This is serious for the UK, the British people would have benefited from remaining in the union. But I do hope that the British people now can unite and look towards the future… Sweden has lost an important partner. There are around 1,000 Swedish daughter companies and there are around 100,000 Swedes living in the UK, we will need to find new solutions for them,” said Löfven. Margot Wallström, who is in New York City at the moment, said the process of the UK exiting the EU would take some time. “This will affect our trade agreements among other things, which will take a long time to repair - it will have to be replaced with other treaties,” said Wallström.
Brexit’s affect on the Riksbank
It has become more difficult for the Riksbank to raise Sweden's interest rate since the British referendum. Dagens Industri reports that the insecurity surrounding growth and the SEK's value will keep mortgage rates down. In the most recent interest rate prognosis, published by the Riksbank in April, the head of the Riksbank, Stefan Ingves and his colleagues predicted that the interest rate would be raised next year. However, this prognosis is now most likely null and void, writes DI, as a result of the UK voting to leave the EU. Great Britain is Sweden’s fourth most important export market, and an economic shock in the UK could easily spread to Sweden, reports DI.
Analysis: Sweden to be shaken up by Brexit
Johan Schück pens a financial analysis piece for DN Ekonomi detailing the shock he believes the Swedish financial markets will experience on Monday. Brexit will make it more difficult for Swedish trade and investments in the UK. Most stock markets around the world fell on Friday, feeling the shock from the UK’s decision to leave the EU following last week’s referendum. However Sweden did not initially feel the impact, since the Swedish markets were closed on Friday, due to the Midsummer holiday. Schück believes that the SEK may increase in value, relative to the GBP, but will weaken relative to the USD. It is still unclear how Brexit will affect all the Swedish companies and individuals who have a direct business connection with the UK, but there most certainly will be changes, writes Schück. One possible outcome, is that Stockholm may attract business and trade from London, if the British capital loses its status as Europe’s business hub.
Survey: Swedes say no to EU referendum
Despite the British decision to leave the EU, Swedish support for their own continued membership is still strong. Dagens Industri cites a poll conducted by TNS Sifo after the UK’s vote, in which more than 1,000 Swedes were questioned about their views on the EU. When asked if Sweden should stay a member, 52% of those questioned wanted to remain, while 31% wanted to leave. On the question of whether Sweden should have a similar referendum to the UK, 30% answered yes, while the majority, 56%, were against such a referendum. However, Swedes are still critical of the union. Only 14% of those surveyed said they think the EU is on the right path forward. 52% said they believe that the EU is moving forward in the wrong direction, while 35% were unsure. “All in all, this is a very strong warning signal to today’s political leadership,” said Toivo Sjörén, at Sifo.