Brexit Part 2

Gabrielle Klemt - 2A Geological
Posted on: February 18, 2017

You may recall the furor raised over the summer over the great Brexit debate: to leave the EU or to stay? It was one of David Cameron’s campaign promises to have the referendum for the country to decide if they wanted to stick with Europe or forge their own path. Unfortunately for David Cameron, he discovered, just as our own PM Justin Trudeau is discovering, that people tend to want you to keep your campaign promises.

No sooner was Cameron elected than he started to back off from the idea of referendum. Unfortunately for him, the country wouldn’t let him forget, and neither would the very vocal contingent of pro-Brexit politicians. Lo and behold, the referendum took place and the UK voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU.

As you might imagine, this caused a huge uproar across the world, considering no one has ever left the EU before: what would happen? How would they make the transition? Would they be able to survive the change? One day later, Cameron stepped down from his post as PM and Brexit’s staunchest supporter Boris Johnson was seen distancing himself the issue and declaring he would not run for PM, an office that would be facing huge heat in the wake of Brexit.

So now, 6 months later, what is Britain and her new PM Theresa May planning to do to move the Brexit forward, and what’s been done thus far? May, the former home secretary under Cameron, was originally against Britain leaving the EU, but since taking the post as head of her country she has declared that “Brexit means Brexit” and she will respect the will of the people.

It’s important to note that the value of the pound, always a very strong currency, has remained near a 30-year low since the referendum. However, despite many doom and gloom forecasts saying the economy would just jump right off a cliff if Brexit went through, over all the economy is doing pretty well. I mean, the pound is still worth more than the Loonie so who am I to judge really? Some costs have increased for businesses and for government borrowing, but most share prices have recovered any loss they may have suffered in the initial wake of the vote and the Bank of England cut interest rates for the first time since 2009.

But wait, is Britain officially out now then? Are they separated metaphorically as well as physically from their European chums? In a word: no. In order to officially leave, they have to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, only created in 2009 and never before used, where each side gets 2 years to decide how to make this divorce as amicable as possible without hurting the children. By children I mean all the British workers in Europe and all the European workers in the UK who are wondering exactly what is going to happen to them. May plans to start the process to leave by March 2017, meaning that they’ll be separated by summer 2019. Of course though, since politics is politics, there’s a bill going through Parliament now to decide whether or not to even invoke Article 50; it is expected to pass.

What are the next steps then to secure a strong future for the UK? Let’s start with May’s meeting with US President Donald Trump, who told her what a wonderful thing Brexit would be for Britain. It seems that in the meeting, May and Trump tried to build on the “special relationship” their countries possess, to create a special trade relationship sometime in the near future.

As a result of its imminent departure from the EU, the UK will be leaving the European single market. The single market allows for the free movement of goods and services through Europe, stimulating competition and trade, improving efficiency, raising quality, and helping to cut prices, according to the European Commission. Due to the loss of this important trade deal, the British government has been scrambling to secure bilateral deals around the world with new and existing partners. Although Trump himself has been an opponent of many existing US trade deals, it seems keen on creating some new ones, specifically with a post-Brexit United Kingdom.

Speaking of trade deals, and there are going to be lots of them pretty soon, the UK plans on continuing trade with the EU, seeking a “comprehensive free trade deal” with “the greatest possible access to the single market”. In effect, what Theresa May said in her recent speech on Brexit is that she wants to be in the single market without being under the control of the European Court of Justice and avoiding unlimited flow of immigrants from the EU. She also wants to negotiate a new customs deal with the EU, allowing a common tariff on goods coming from Europe while also allowing them to have trade deals with other countries, something prohibited while they were an EU member. Seems like she wants a lot to me, I hope they can make it all work out.

If you ever decide to read about or listen to anything about Brexit after reading this article, then you might hear the words “hard” and “soft” Brexit being thrown around. The former simply means that the UK would be taking a very uncompromising approach on negotiations with the EU for issues like free movement, a major reason many people voted to leave. Soft is just the opposite, and an example would be a situation like Norway, which has never been an EU member but which has access to the single market. As a consequence, however, they have to accept free movement of people.

Is anything else happening other than lots of deals soon? I’d say you’re likely to see a reduction in immigration, given that Theresa May has said she wants to listen to the people and that’s what they’re really calling for. For the time being, any EU workers in Britain and vice-versa will not have to leave the countries they’re working in; the final say in this depends on what the deal made between EU and UK is, but it’s doubtful anything too major on that front will occur soon. It’s likely you’ll hear more about it in a year when Article 50 is in action and deals are starting to be struck.

Lastly, what about Scotland? While it sometimes feels like Scotland threatens a referendum on independence every few years, another one really looks to be on the horizon. With all 32 council areas in Scotland voting to stay in the EU, Scots are upset about the decision by the rest of the UK and they want to have a say. They’re especially upset about leaving the single market and the First Minister of Scotland has said that a referendum is highly likely, but not in 2017.

For more fun worldly drama, keep updating yourself on the issues. There is never a dull moment in news, is there?