By : Abhinav Malhotra, Associate Editor-ICN World
In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
The term Brexit is an evident portmanteau of “Britain” and its “Exit” from the European Union. The entire Brexit Conundrum seems to be an esoteric affair but in this article, we’ll understand the semantics of it in a simplified manner.
First, we need to throw light on the European Union and subsequently about the inevitable Exit of Britain.
Way back in 1993, The European Union was formed with an internal single market, through a standardized system of law that applied to all the member states. The objectives for the formation of the Union were:
- To ensure free movement of people, goods, and services within the internal market, with its (E.U) capital being Brussels.
- Maintaining peace between the Member States
- Granting Common Citizenship Rights
- Establishing a stable monetary union with a single currency i.e. Euro.
Supporting a population of over 513 million i.e. roughly 7.3% of the World’s population, the E.U presently has a gross GDP of 19.67 trillion US dollars. There are 28 Members in the Union with Britain being one of the major financial contributors. The E.U is the second-largest economy in the world with the Euro being the second most traded currency in the World.
So now let us ponder on the points as to how and why the Brexit storm was cooked up and who the key personality’s to it was.
In 2015, the Conservative general election victory ignited a manifesto pledge to hold an in-out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
David Cameron (Ex-PM of Britain) had made this promise at a time when he was under pressure from the Eurosceptic lobby. Hence, Cameron promised to campaign with his “heart and soul” to keep Britain in the EU. Several members of his cabinet campaigned to leave.
Other than David Cameron the following personalities played a key role:
- Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party was one of the key persons due to whom a referendum took place on whether the UK should stay as a part of the E.U or no.
- Dominic Cummings– a British Political Advisor and the campaign director for Vote Leave in the referendum.
- Boris Johnson– the British Politician and Journalist, served as the mayor of London from 2008-2016. (Presently the Prime Minister of Britain)
- Michael Gove – British politician of the Conservative Party, a core campaigner of the Leave EU campaign.
- Jeremy Corbyn– Leader of the opposition party and also the head of the Labour Party in the UK who argued vehemently on the European Single market system and was a part of the stay campaign.
- Lord Rose-Former Chairman of Marks and Spencer’s was the head of the stay campaign.
On June 23rd, 2016 17.4 Million people voted to leave the EU in a referendum. The referendum turnout was roughly 71.8%.
The point of contention now lies on why Britain wanted to exit the Union. Following are the key issues on which the leave brigade argues on.
- The UK pays 13 Billion Euros to the EU as Membership fees. According to data, even after rebates/discounts and public sector receipts in 2017 they paid 8 Billion Euros more than they got back. The amount paid to the EU gets redistributed to various other member states. The Pro-Brexit Lobby argues that this financial burden must be alienated and reallocated for fruitful use within Britain.
- The immigration controversy is a major contributor to the entire mess. According to the rules of the Union, any citizen of an EU member state can relocate and work in the U.K without needing a work visa for the same. Then Pro-Brexit Campaigners argue that the Non-UK Citizens are consuming the already scarce public services like the National Health Service.
- Another reason stated by the Pro-Brexit Campaigners highlights an important aspect that the People of Britain do not see themselves as Europeans. (No substantial data available to support the Fact)
On the Contrary, the stay campaign (Those who don’t want Brexit to happen) believe Brexit to be a prodigal attempt and stress the following points:
- The UK will lose the benefits of free trade with neighbours and its negotiating power with the rest of the world will dwindle.
- UK’s status as one of the world’s biggest financial centers would be diminished if London was no longer seen as a gateway to the EU.
- The tax revenues would drop if companies carrying out large amounts of business with the Euro moved their headquarters back into the EU.
- Major Carmakers could scale back production in the UK if vehicles could no longer be exported tax-free to Europe
- The Stay Campaigners acknowledged that the pace of immigration had led to some difficulties with housing and service provision, but said the net effect had been positive.
- The economic security issue was raked up, claiming three million jobs would be lost if Britain voted to leave.
The following chart reflects the year on year per person GDP Rate and proof that post-unification of Countries under the E.U, growth was inimitable.
The following table represents the possibilities or the modes in which Brexit was contemplated to occur in 2016.
Theresa May’s term as the British Prime Minister had been primarily dominated by Brexit. May was the longest-serving home secretary in the recent history of the U.K., a High-level Cabinet minister who campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU until the referendum took place. Later she sent a letter to the president of the European Union Mr. Donald Tusk invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty starting the two-year countdown to decide on U. K’s Relation with the EU.
Boris Johnson became prime minister on 24 July 2019. The result broke the deadlock in the British Parliament and ensured that the United Kingdom would leave the European Union on 31 January 2020.
The Brexit Deal Explained:
- The Deal will guarantee tariff-free and quota-free trade between Britain and the EU.
- The Business houses will have to fill in Custom declarations to export and import goods.
- There will be a mechanism to settle disputes. European Court of Justice will not adjudicate.
- Britain will not dish out subsidies to UK-based Companies.
- The EU Boats catch 650 million euros’ worth of fish a year in UK Waters. As per the agreement, EU Boats will now give a quarter of the catch.
European Union and United Kingdom relations post Brexit:
- The relations seem to be going sour as evident by the points below:
- The UK Tried to pass a law that would allow it to ignore some of the points that agreed with the EU over Northern Ireland. But the law couldn’t go ahead.
- The European Union in January tried to fiddle with the Nuclear option suspending the bit of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland.
- The UK decided on its own to delay the introduction of new rules about the export of supermarket goods and parcels from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
My Take on the situation:
- As the cacophony continues, a solution does not seem to be on the cards. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty does provide for the UK to reverse its decision of leaving the E.U.
- The U.K leaving the E.U will impact the integrity of the E.U. The corollary events may not be predicted too soon, but the other member nations might come up with similar demands.
- Brexit has caused the European Union to lose its second-largest economy. Also, Britain was the second-largest net contributor to the EU budget.
4.The new trade deal has left the service sector including lawyers, architects, consultants, and others uncertain about its future dealings with the European Union.
The British left our Country and as Mr. Shashi Tharoor often quotes “The British owe reparations to India”. Now it will be interesting to see the anecdotes of Brexit and to whom the British will now owe reparations.