Many economists believe if the Brexit referendum passes, then other countries could leave the European Union, too.
No state has ever left the EU – an economic bloc of 28 countries – since its creation in 1993. That's why the Brexit referendum is such a big deal.
It could cause a domino effect of more "exit" referendums from other member states, which would threaten the EU's sovereignty.
There are three countries in particular that are most likely to leave the EU after Britain. These countries benefit least from their membership.
But before we take a look at these three countries, let's talk about the reasons behind the Brexit vote and its current status…
The UK Prime Minister David Cameron is largely credited for the Brexit referendum – or the vote to exit the European Union. Although he personally supports Britain remaining in the EU, he promised in 2013 to hold a referendum to remain in or leave the EU if Conservatives won the 2015 election, according to the Financial Times.
Cameron set the referendum vote for Thursday, June 23, 2016.
The most current poll, published by Ipsos MORI poll on June 16 — exactly one week ahead of the vote — shows that the majority of Brits want Brexit:
- 53% of Brits want to leave the trade and customs union
- 47% want to remain
The poll follows another from The Times just two days before in which the "leave" supporters gained the majority for the first time.
Any country is allowed to leave the EU, as permitted under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. But it's not an easy process. For Britain, it could take several years if Brexit passes.
And for these other three member states, leaving the EU would be equally difficult.
But to them, the trouble might be worth it…
3 More EU Countries Who Could Leave If the Brexit Referendum Passes
No. 1. The Netherlands
A successful Brexit could strengthen anti-EU populist parties in the Netherlands – a country with strong ties to Britain. Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch anti-Muslim and anti-EU Freedom Party, is already on a stable path to winning 42 of the Dutch parliament's 150 seats in 2017. He said that Brexit would make it easier for other member countries to make the same decision, according to The Guardian.
Many Dutch citizens and party leaders are frustrated that the Netherlands can't set its own immigration policy, especially in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Wilders has said in the past he'd prefer the Netherlands to be more like Switzerland, which is known for its strict immigration policy and political independence from Europe.
A recent opinion poll in the Netherlands showed the majority of voters (53%) want an in/out EU referendum vote, according to the Express. And only 1% more of voters want to remain in the EU than those who want to leave the economic bloc. A shift in favor of the Netherlands exiting the EU could easily happen, as the poll also showed 13% said they "didn't know" yet.
No. 2. The Czech Republic
The Czech Republic's Prime Minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, cautioned recently that if the Brexit referendum passes, than a "Czexit" could follow, according to the Express. Sobotka also said a Czexit could lead to an economic downturn and return the country to Russia's sphere of influence.
But many Czech people were upset last year when Brussels – the de facto capital of the EU – forced the Czech Republic to take in a quota of Syrian migrants. Like the Netherlands, a Czexit would allow the country to set its own immigration policy.
In October 2015, a poll conducted among Czech voters showed that three-fifths of Czech voters were unhappy with EU membership, while 62% said they would vote in favor of Czexit in a referendum, according to the Express.
No. 3. France
Marie Le Pen's Front National Party is poised to reach the second round of the 2017 presidential poll in France. The Front National is a leading voice of Euro-skepticism, and has long said it would hold an EU referendum if it took power, according to the Guardian.
Along with Germany, France is one of the key member states in the EU. Its struggling economy and migrant issues, however, have fueled concerns about whether it's beneficial for the country to stay in the economic bloc.
In a March poll, more than 50% of French voters want their own in/out EU referendum, according to the Express. Front National leader Le Pen said the poll's results were "extremely encouraging."
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- The Telegraph: How Brexit Could Lead To Other EU Countries Following The UK Out
- Breitbart: Brexit Will Prompt Talk About The Czech Republic Leaving The EU, Says Czech PM
- Financial Times: What Would Brexit Mean For The City of London
- The Express: Falling like Dominoes: Now Dutch Wants Own EU Vote & Czechs Say They Might Leave