Over two years now the entire world has been bombarded with the ‘Brexit’ indeed it has virtually become a household word.
It is all about the inevitable decision by the people of Britain leaving the 28-member European Union they have been member since 1973. Brexit is a two-word ‘Br’ and ‘exit’ in an abbreviation for “British exit,”
With its inability to clinch a deal as required by law to leave by the 29th of last March, Britain has come face to face with the most political turmoil in recent times. The country is faced with imbalanced political decision, sharp national division and very bleak future as whether to continue to be a member of the European Union (EU) or to go solo on the European continent by way of economic and political endeavors.
The immediate past Prime Minister, David Cameron superintended over a referendum in 2016 providing citizens the opportunity to choose whether to leave the EU or remain in the one of the powerful economic blocks in the world.
This is as a result of Mr. Cameron’s observation of economic unrest in the Eurozone (as the territory of the 19 EU countries that use the euro is known) and what he perceived to be a migrant crisis, a situation that had caused some key political groups such as the, United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) to push for an agenda for a possible British exit from the EU.
He had then put in place mechanisms to go over previous negotiations on trade, political and economic matters such as the UK-EU relationship, the changes in migrant welfare payments, financial safeguards easier ways for Britain to block EU regulations among others, announced in February 2016, the results of those negotiations, and set June 23 as the date of a referendum to provide the people the options of leaving or staying with the EU.
The said went ahead with over 30 million people voting. The turnout was recorded as 71.8 and passed by a slight 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent margin.
The nitty-gritties were that, there were stark differences across the UK. For instance, the people of the Northern Ireland and Scotland voted for the UK to remain in the EU, but figures from these two areas represented only 38 percent of voters choosing “leave”. This situation caused agitations for strong calls for another referendum on Scottish independence.
To this end, Mr. Cameron resigned after six years as Prime Minister of the Britain, amidst the uncertainties of the outcome of the unprecedented national decision. He had wished his Britain to remain in the EU and had led a campaign in to that effect. His reason was “the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path. I think the country requires a fresh leadership, to take it in this direction.”
For him, the decision was not only in contrast to his opinion and wish but importantly it appeared as a defeat to the government he was leading. The reason being that the EU exists to make it easier for European countries including Britain to share in one another’s prosperity, as with any union. It is well known that cooperation means weathering downturns together, but to some within his own party and government especially, the former Mayor of London, who later became the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, this hasn’t always been the case.
Some political figures such as Mr. Johnson, argued that some financial crisis within the EU caused much challenges for some of the countries such as the UK. During the 2008 financial crisis that hit the continent of Europe, many economists agreed that the European Central Bank failed to respond effectively, leading to a recession that was much more severe than it needed to be. Unemployment rose, and tax revenue fell. Banks needed bailouts, and debt in a number of EU countries soared.
A situation, which resulted in an intra-EU migration of which, Britain was and still been the biggest casualty. Huge number of EU citizens migrated to the UK thus given it huge migration issues which infuriated the citizenry.
After Mr. Cameron’s resignation, Britain’s former Home Secretary, Theresa May, took the mantle and in October 2016, she announced her intention to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, formally giving notice of Britain’s intent to leave the EU.
The EU almighty Article 50 was the only one to be triggered to “negotiate and conclude an agreement with that state, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal”.
She further signed and presented the order to the order, to the Council of the European Union on 29th March 2017 meaning that the official two-year count down had begun. This meant Britain was to officially leave the EU tentatively by midnight of 29th of March 2019.
Beside the huge size of the UK’s ‘divorce bill’ with the EU of about £39 billion (€42 billion) which was calculated based on agreement between the UK and EU, there are still other huge hurdles for the UK to o over.
These include, the UK is to pay over £9 billion per annum net into the EU budget within the years of the negotiation, the controversial new temporary customs union after Brexit, the question of can there be a single market for the UK without being an EU member?
Others like trade, cyber security, terrorism, common fisheries and agricultural policies, the Northern Ireland’s 310-mile border with the Republic of Ireland, aviation rights, farming, and legal sovereignty as well as citizens’ rights are among issues confronting Brexit negotiators.
Again, there are hundreds of thousands of EU citizens who travel to the UK each year while hundreds commute by air to the UK dairy for business activities. Besides, around three million of EU citizens are currently living in the UK. This was a key issue during the referendum, and the UK Government was suspected to be cutting EU migration after Brexit.
At the end, the biggest of all the issues was if the UK leaves with no deal, (in an event of no agreements in place about what their relationship would be like in future) how much of the divorce bill will be paid to the EU and would they be legally obligated to pay?
Circumstances are such that Theresa May has the power to give notice of intent to leave the EU, but she needs the authority of her Parliament to effect it and for two years running, Theresa May has woefully failed to present a satisfactory deal to the House of Commons which will appease her approval thus clinching a deal for her country.
Prime Minister May’s ordeal is that, she has to obtain the favour of both the EU and the Commons, in respect of what she presents to both, to enable her go further with her exit plans.
After failing to secure the blessing of the House of Commons for the third time before the exit deadline of 29th March 2019, and the fourth time on the 1st of april, Mrs. May’s task appears so much insurmountable. She is now wandering around for yet another attempt to present satisfying negotiation outcomes to the Commons for approval, which will also meet the blessings of the EU.
By Nana Sifa Twum