If you pay attention to any world news you may have noticed the phrase “Brexit” repeated a lot in the last year or so and may be confused about what it means. This article hopes to offer a little explanation on what Brexit.
Brexit refers to the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union after a referendum vote from 2016 whereby 53.4% of the population voted to leave the EU and 46.6% voted to remain in the EU. The British Exit has since been referred to as Brexit.
In order to understand what Brexit is, you must be aware of what the EU is. The EU includes 28 European countries and was set up after the Second World War as a political and economic organization promoting free trade and the free movement of people within Europe, with the hope that this cooperation would prevent any further wars that had destroyed Europe in the early twentieth century. In the modern day the EU is also referred to as the “single market” with its own currency of the Euro, although Britain always kept the pound, and their own governing body.
The leave campaign focused on the issues of regaining British sovereignty, the cost of the EU as those funds could be used to finance the National Health System (NHS), and critically the issue of immigration prevailed with the prevalence of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) using scaremongering tactics to warn of the dangers of immigrants arriving in Britain from the Middle East and Africa. This demonstrates a worldwide trend towards anti-immigration that has also been seen in the recent US mid-term elections.
The remain campaign warned that the UK was better in the EU as it created a stronger Europe and therefore a stronger Britain. They highlighted the benefits of the EU for business in the promotion of free trade in Europe and the ability of British people to work anywhere in Europe and for British businesses in need to source jobs from other European countries when the demand could not be met within Britain.
Within the UK their were disparities between voting patterns during the referendum whereby Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, with Scotland again promoting the idea of independence from the UK, which would enable them to rejoin the EU. Moreover, for those that voted to leave were of older generations whereas the young, particularly those of university age, voted to remain in the EU. This is because the EU offers a lot of benefits to students with the Erasmus student exchange scheme and funding for science programs at British universities, to name a few.
The UK is set to leave the EU Friday 29th March, 2019. However, no formal deal or plan has been made of how this will happen. News sources constantly refer to “soft Brexit,” “hard Brexit,” and a no-deal Brexit, yet no actual agreement has been made that all sides have agreed to and no one really understands what is going on. Recently, British Prime Minister Theresa May has proposed her Brexit plan to the British government, yet this was voted down by the House of Commons (the British equivalent to the House of Representatives) and members of her own cabinet resigned over the issues of the Brexit deal and the parties opposition leader, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, critically opposed May’s plan. Furthermore, for any deal the British put forward over Brexit, it has to be agreed to by the other EU countries and there are international issues of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, along with the status of Gibraltar that make this more difficult.
No country has ever left the EU before, which explains why it has been such a long and complicated process as no one knows what future is in store for Britain. Although, economic concerns have taken top priority as Britain is due to pay the EU £39 billion for leaving, which could have devastating economic effects that are already starting to take their toll in Britain. Additionally, within Europe there has been a rise of right-wing nationalist groups that are also calling for independence from the EU meaning the EU itself has been weakened because of Brexit and their future is uncertain. The UK hopes that by leaving the EU they will have power in their own future and can source trade agreements with countries outside of Europe, including the United States and China, however no one can be sure what will happen in the future.
Overall, Brexit is difficult to understand but as long as you know the UK is set to leave the European Union you know the basics. For more detailed information about issues regarding visas and passports, which may affect you if you wish to holiday in Europe and the UK or one day get a job there or even involve yourself in international business or politics, you should know this stuff in more detail and consult websites like the BBC, the Times, and CNN International, who have countless articles on Brexit their predictions of what will happen depending on what deal is made.