Demystifying Brexit by George Milton

What is Brexit?

Brexit is the action voted for by the people of the UK to leave the European Union or EU (A political alliance of many countries in Europe, the headquarters in Brussels, the capital of Belgium) and thus gain independence from the mainland. The referendum took place in the summer before last and the results were announced on the 23rd of June 2016. There had been controversy over this topic since we joined The Common Market (the previous name of the EU) in 1973. There was another referendum in 1975, but the results turned out rather differently. This time the results were 52% in favour of leaving the EU and 48% in favour of staying within the bloc.

EU Votes

The reason for these results was that the people of Great Britain were so unclear about what would benefit them. Even now, nearing the time when Britain will leave the EU for good, we are unsure of what the outcome will be for us and our communities.  The terminology and possibilities are befuddling even to the highest figures of political authority. How, then, is the British citizen supposed to know what to vote for if even cabinet ministers don’t know what will happen?

Why have a referendum in the first place?

First of all, the EU started out as a trading community based on finance but turned to fully-fledged political union. This seemed to allow Brussels control over other nations in this trade arrangement. Noticing this, Eurosceptics (People opposed to the growing power of the European Union) claimed that membership is an “Unacceptable transfer of power from our parliament to Brussels”.

However, the issue did not become so prominent until the election of David Cameron, t, because before him were two pro-EU PMs, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. It seems that the Conservative Party was under threat from UKIP and Nigel Farage (since by 2012 they were backed by 15% of the electorate). The fear was not that UKIP would take seats from them, but get enough votes to see the Labour Party to victory. The Prime Minister needed something to fight off this threat; the EU referendum. This led to David Cameron’s resignation.

Have our views changed?

Well, some of the main reasons the British public voted to leave the EU was because we thought that our currency would change from pounds to euros. This may have been a damaging prospect since the value of the euro is lower than that of the pound. However, the value of the Great British Pound has gone down anyway. One euro used to be equivalent to 67 pence, however it is now equivalent to 89 pence.  Yet, our economy is one of the strongest in Europe. So why might our pound perform lower than the US dollar and the Euro? This is probably due to Brexit.

Next, we predicted that instead of our parliament creating British laws, Brussels would. This was incorrect, but a very valid theory, since the EU’s power is increasing so rapidly. The Vote Leave group even said that 350 million pounds per week would be donated to the NHS (National Health Service) when we left the EU. So far this has not happened. Of course there are many other reasons people voted to leave. These are just two.

Votes by Area

A soft Brexit or a hard one?

Since it has already been decided that the UK is to leave the EU, the most common things we hear today on the topic are about a “hard” or “soft” Brexit. But what does any of this mean?

As you may have guessed, a soft Brexit involves bringing about less “revolutionary” changes and in some sense, still retains some form of small relationship with the European Union. A hard Brexit, or as the supporters prefer to call it a “clean” Brexit, involves discontinuing the UK’s relationship with the EU as trading and financial partners, instead creating an alliance based around the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and its rules and financial support. The hard Brexiteers appear to have the upper hand, with the international trade secretary, Liam Fox’s speech on his vision of the UK as a globalised trading nation. To make a long story short, no one knows exactly what will benefit our island most.

What do our leaders want?

As with many things, Theresa May has not made it very clear what she wants with Brexit. Initially, she didn’t want to leave the EU, but in her speech last September, she criticised the growing dominance of Brussels over the UK and it’s laws.

 

 

 

 

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