What is Brexit? To put it shortly, Brexit is Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, and it is shaping up to be one of Britain’s biggest peacetime decisions of all time. To give some background, we need to discuss what exactly the European Union is.
What is the EU? The European Union, or just the EU, is a partnership with 28 other European countries. This serves to help with economic co-operation, in order to make it so that countries who are in a trade partnership are less likely to go to war together. The EU has not just served as a means for economic bridges to be built, but it has also helped to establish long lasting relationships between European countries. The EU was established in 1999 but came to fruition in 2002. So far, the EU has helped establish peace, a currency for 19 different countries, and even provides tens of billions of pounds per year in foreign aid. Overall, the EU has generally helped to improve the quality of life in Europe, particularly the 19 countries involved in it.
Why does Britain want to leave the EU? Because the countries within the EU are almost like city states where people can move about easily without much trouble, this has threatened the blue-collar jobs of many British citizens. Currently there are over 14 million people who live in EU countries that they weren’t born in. Because of the new, cheap source of labor that is readily available, the blue-collar workers have gotten more and more upset because of that easily accessible and cheap labor. Part of the reason that so many people are migrating to England, is because of the refugee crisis. In 2015 alone, more than a million refugees, usually from Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, have fled into Europe. England has seen a large number of the refugees take home there and has been the topic of political rage. “On June 23, 2016, as a refugee crisis made migration a subject of political rage across Europe” (New York Times).
When is Britain due to leave the EU? The UK was supposed to have left the EU on March 29th, 2019, roughly two years after it started making its way toward leaving the EU, by invoking Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which states that, “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.” However, a few days before the deadline, the EU leaders have granted another six-month extension until October 31st, 2019 because none of the members of parliament have agreed on a withdrawal deal yet. Furthermore, British Prime Minister Theresa May has made it public that she hopes the UK will leave the EU before the European Parliament elections happen. Prime Minister May hopes that the earliest the UK could leave would be by May 22nd.
What is the incentive for leaving? It mostly comes down to the economy in the UK. “Brexiteers argued that leaving the EU would result in an immediate cost saving, as the country would no longer contribute to the EU budget. In 2016, Britain paid in £13.1bn, but it also received £4.5bn worth of spending,” said Full Fact, “so the UK’s net contribution was £8.5bn” (The Week). On the other hand, almost 50% of England’s trade is with other EU countries, if the UK left then they would lose the benefits of free trade with neighbors and reduce its negotiating power with the rest of the world.
Although the Brexit talks have been going on for years, it has been almost entirely unsuccessful. Not only has it caused much political strife within the UK, but no steps have been taken to either follow through to Brexit or put an end to the movement. British Prime Minister has even said, “I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.” Britain is extremely divided right now and is in a Catch-22 situation. On one hand, leaving the Union could help provide more self-reliance in the long run, as well as freeing up tens of billions of pounds in their budget, but it could also lead to a lot of economic turmoil as Britain would not have the same benefits it would normally have when it comes to trade as it would if it were still in the EU. The rest of the world eagerly awaits the decision of the British Parliament and just as ardently awaits the repercussions of the parliament’s decision before October 31st.
“Brexit: Pros and Cons of Leaving the EU.” The Week UK, www.theweek.co.uk/brexit-0.
Wheeler, Alex Hunt & Brian. “Brexit: All You Need to Know about the UK Leaving the EU.” BBC News, BBC, 8 Apr. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-32810887.
Boyle, Catherine. “Just What Is the UK’s Problem with Europe?” CNBC, CNBC, 27 May 2015, www.cnbc.com/2015/05/27/why-would-the-uk-want-to-leave-the-eu.html.
Mueller, Benjamin. “What Is Brexit? A Simple Guide to Why It Matters and What Happens Next.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Jan. 2019, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/world/europe/what-is-brexit.html.
Trick or Treat? EU, UK Agree to Delay Brexit until Halloween, www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/eu-britain-agree-to-extend-brexit-until-oct-31/ar-BBVODU8.
Stewart, Heather, et al. “Brexit: May Vows to Resign before next Phase of Negotiations If Deal Is Passed.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 28 Mar. 2019, www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/27/theresa-may-to-resign-before-next-phase-of-brexit.
Wedia. “[Video] Brexit Explained: What Happens When the UK Leaves the EU?” IamExpat in the Netherlands – For Expats of All Colours, Shapes & Sizes, www.iamexpat.nl/expat-info/dutch-expat-news/video-brexit-explained-what-happens-when-uk-leaves-eu. (Image)