To Brexit, or not to Brexit
Updated: Dec 20, 2019
Brexit: a simplified overview
For decades the UK has had a (mostly) happy marriage with the European Union, however, as a result of one of the most consequential referendums (votes) in British history, it was decided that the UK was to ‘exit’ this union.
The UK did not want to leave the EU negatively, in fear of crippling their economy or losing benefits that came with being members of the European Union, so, they decided to strike a deal, ensuring that all the benefits they once had, whilst being members, would remain intact.
Since then, deals between the UK and the EU have been formed, yet none have been agreed upon.
Afraid of leaving the EU deal-free, the UK’s exit has been postponed for months, leaving politicians and British citizens alike restless and confused.
After months of negotiations, the current Prime Minister of the UK decided to leave the EU, deal or no deal. Nevertheless, many obstacles, including the British parliament, have stood in his path, leaving Britain’s fate as unsure as ever.
What is the European Union?
The EU is a political and economic union of 28 countries that trade with each other and allow their citizens to travel easily and visa-free between them to live and work.
How did it all start?
On the 23rd of June 2016, the UK held a referendum (vote) asking citizens whether they should remain members of the EU. Surprisingly, the majority of British citizens voted to ‘leave’ the union, initiating a process code named “Act 50,” most commonly known as Brexit.
Why did British citizens want to leave the EU?
Simply put, being part of the EU was a commitment- turned liability- for the UK, regardless of the many valuable advantages it offered. Examples of these liabilities include:
However, these reasons have since been deemed exaggerated and controversial.
Why some citizens wanted to remain members of the EU:
Regardless of the countless benefits that came with leaving the EU, non-Brexit supporters believed that the risk was far too great and that leaving the European Union would cause many more problems than it would fix. This belief was so widespread due to:
To avoid losing the benefits of free trade, ease of travel, regional dominance and a border-less relationship with Ireland, the British government attempted to strike a deal with the EU, called the “withdrawal agreement.”
In short, the withdrawal agreement dictates:
After drafting this deal, it was shown to the Members of Parliament, or the ‘MPs,’ who swiftly voted against it- 3 times.
Theresa May, the PM of the UK at that time, was given until the 31st of October to ratify the withdrawal agreement. But, unable to find a way of pleasing the parliament, May stepped down as Prime Minister and was replaced by Boris Johnson.
Mr. Johnson's Contribution
Boris Johnson claimed that he would rather “Die in a ditch and not extend Brexit” than deliver on October 31. He assured British citizens that he would leave the EU, with or without a deal.
Under terms of a law passed by the Parliament, Britain could not exit the EU unless the parliament agreed to do so, and, after months of restless debating, the parliament were able to pass a deal stating that the UK could not leave the EU deal-free.
For months, lawmakers had been trying to design a law which made a “no deal” exit impossible.
To avoid this possibility, the U.K. government suspended parliament on the 10th of September, preventing lawmakers from creating laws that would force Britain’s exit from the EU to be delayed or even cancelled if no deal is agreed upon.
However, the Supreme Court ruled the suspension “unlawful,” therefore, resuming parliament 15 days later.
Despite the previous controversy, Boris Johnson decided to suspend parliament again, this time claiming it was due to the “Queen’s Speech” (When the parliament is suspended to allow the ruling monarch to read a speech that has been prepared by his or her government outlining its plans for that parliamentary year.)
So…what’s happening now?
On the 17th-18th of October, the EU’s leader summit in Brussels, and Boris Johnson agreed on a new withdrawal agreement.
Nevertheless, Johnson still had to convince the Parliament of this new agreement- which was his greatest obstacle.
Surprisingly, the Parliament agreed to the motion. however, they disagreed to the timeline, stating that the UK could not possibly Brexit on the 31st, causing a further delay.
Since then, Johnson has decided to hold a new election, in hopes of his Conservative party winning the majority and allowing Johnson to easily pass new laws and legislation.
The election will be held on the 12th of December.