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*Please see end of article for explanation of terms marked numerically

 

Back in 2015, in pursuit of winning leadership of the UK, David Cameron stated that Britain would be better off in a “reformed European Union”. He suggested a referendum on whether or not to pull out of the EU, offering the British democracy their much-loved right to ‘choose’, after having been fed appropriate propaganda and very little actual information leading up to the vote.

The European Union is run by an unelected commission, meaning its leadership is undemocratic. Leftist arguments describe the EU as a unity of rich European countries which excludes poorer countries. Tariffs against African and Asian countries for example, make it extremely difficult for their farmers to export to Europe. Certain EU laws preside over national laws and the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) which allows transnational corporations to sue national governments and undermines medicinal and environmental safety, and our privacy, is supported by the group.

Being part of the EU also allows member states’ citizens to freely travel, work and trade between international borders; offers university education through the Erasmus program and protects the environment from ecologically destructive governments and companies.

I think it is fair to say that most people (including Cameron) assumed that Britain would remain in the EU.

One of the ‘Brexit Buses’, photo: Twitter @ThePureDrop

Leave supporters rallied, for example publicising on public buses that the £350 million paid each week in EU membership fees would instead go straight into the National Health Service (which was then plainly denied after the results were announced). Although this wasn’t every Leave voter’s belief, the snowball argument, much like Trump’s rhetoric, was the idea of ‘making Britain great again’. Many took this to mean removing job-thieving immigrants from the country and racist arguments began to spread, propagated by mainstream media. Some of the worst claimed that women were at risk of sex attacks by migrants if we stayed in Europe.

In June, the Labour MP, Jo Cox, who stood for diversity and unity as representative of her local Yorkshire town in parliament (5), was shot and stabbed. Shouts of “Britain first” were heard during the attack and when the aggressor was asked for his name in court, he replied, “My name is death to traitors, freedom to Britain”.

Daily Mail online headline

Unfortunately for David Cameron, England voted for Brexit, by 53.4% to 46.6%, as did Wales, with Leave getting 52.5% of the vote and Remain 47.5%. Scotland and Northern Ireland both backed staying in the EU. A similar division of yes/no votes was reflected in the results of the plebiscito in Colombia and in the US elections.

Cameron resigned the day the results were announced. Boris Johnson unexpectedly announced he would not be running for prime minister, and Nigel Farage stepped down as leader of the UKIP party. This left Britain with few choices for a new leader:

  • Theresa May (who during her role as Home Secretary, increased the number of EU nationals expelled from Britain by 256% and repeatedly detains immigrants for months at a time, where no crime has been committed. She refused to release information from the Yarl’s Wood detention centre, despite repeated claims that the women seeking refuge from their countries of origin had been sexually and physically abused in detention.)
  • Michael Gove (the Education Minister who wanted to get rid of»soft» GCSEs such as law, media studies, art, drama and physical education and who, as Minister of Justice in 1998 claimed that “we were wrong to abolish hanging”. Gove, alongside May, supported the scrapping of the Human Rights Act from British courts.)
  • Andrea Leadsom (the Energy Minister who supported fracking, asked whether climate change existed and expressed strong views against same-sex marriage and interest in repealing the foxhunting ban).

Theresa May, despite voting for the UK to remain, gained power over the country and stated that she would respect the vote of the people, consistently repeating in public broadcasts that “Brexit means Brexit”. This did little to clear up national confusion: at the level of any one of the thousand who googled ‘What is the EU?’ following the Brexit result; the ‘bregretters’ who apparently regretted their vote after realising the future of Britain was not so certain; and what appeared to be everyone else, including those who worked in the EU and had never seen Article 50 [removal from the Union] triggered.

Image: Google Trends

 

Theresa May originally wanted to start Brexit without a commons vote (7), however a group of campaigners (headed by investment manager Gina Miller) -some desperately seeking a way to undermine the democratic decision, others simply fighting for a lawful process- mounted a legal challenge.

In an attempt to demean the campaigners, tabloids dubbed the court judges “enemies of the people” and Gina Miller received death threats for her campaigning.

The Supreme Court (6) ordered that without a Parliament (5) vote, Brexit would be undemocratic (3) and would devalue long-established constitutional principles. Therefore Theresa May cannot commence discussions with the EU (planned to begin 31st March 2017) until MPs and peers give their support.

The court also unanimously ruled that devolved administrations – the limited powers held by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over their own nations- did not need to be consulted in the matter, nor did they have a right to veto Article 50.

British tabloid headlines. Image: CNN

 

Triggering Article 50, which has never been done before, will mean taking apart 43 years of treaties and agreements which span thousands of different topics and will need approval from at least 20 of the EU’s member countries.

What’s more, the post-Brexit trade deal needs the unanimous approval of more than 30 national and regional parliaments across Europe, some of these may even want to hold referendums of their own to settle the decision, as Brexit will affect them too.

The UK Representative to the European Union, one of Britain’s most experienced and knowledgeable negotiators, unexpectedly quit his role in January, stating that no one even knew the Government’s (4) negotiating objectives for the 2 year process which is to begin in less than three months. The Chief Chamber of Commerce equally resigned following the startling results.

Frankly, Brexit is a nightmare of negotiations, regulations and treaties to be re-debated and planned. And no one wants to do it.

However, Britain does seem to want it to be done. While some MPs do want to delay the process, many more are pressuring the government to get on with it so that the UK will have left the EU by the next elections in May 2020.

Could there be a last fight for ‘Bremain’? Technically yes, although it’s highly unlikely that more than one Conservative MP will vote against the rulings.

Gina Miller speaks outside the Supreme Court in Parliament Square, central London, January 24, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

 

“Brexit means Brexit”, so Brexit is Theresa’s plan, in respect of democracy (3) and pride.

May, in her negotiating objectives speech, emphasised the need to strengthen the union between the four nations of the UK. Not only has the Brexit debate been divisive, but it has left out the views of the 3 nations outside of Westminster. Scotland’s 62% majority in favour of remaining in the EU are going to feel even more frustrated with their lack of voice in UK politics than before, and may hold another referendum to leave the UK. Nicola Sturgeon, head of the Scottish National Party stated plainly that leaving the single market would be «economically catastrophic».

Tensions with Northern Ireland may well increase considering the 55.8% who voted Remain and considering the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday that, although Northern Ireland’s people do have a fundamental constitutional say in being part of the UK, this does not extend to being part of the EU.

The government has set up a Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations, so that ministers from each of the UK’s devolved administrations can contribute to Brexit planning. The Scottish parliament has already sent 50 points for negotiation.

May stressed the importance of maintaining travel routes between the UK and Ireland and the need to maintain rights for EU nationals in Britain and vice versa. This is a promise she has plainly disrespected in the past, with accounts of EU nationals with the right to work in the UK being detained for little to no reason, not to mention her deportation of hundreds of ‘foreigners’ from the country. “The confidential patient records of more than 8,000 people have been handed over by the NHS to the Home Office in the past year” as part of “Theresa May’s drive to “create a hostile environment” for illegal immigrants in Britain.” [The Guardian]

“Brexit must mean control of the numbers of people who come into Britain from Europe”, the prime minister read in her speech yesterday. However, when it concerns striking favourable trade deals outside of the single market (9), May has referred to these very people as “close friends and neighbours”.

“We do not seek membership of the single market. Instead we seek the greatest possible access to it through a new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement… And because we will no longer be members of the single market, we will not be required to contribute huge sums to the EU budget.”

Is Britain being far too arrogant in its aims and statements, that perhaps it is burning its bridges with its neighbours? It’s extremely ambitious to believe that we will be able to maintain strong ties with Europe, especially considering the theoretical context of the creation of the EU. It united nations who suffered horrifically and caused terrible suffering, culminating in the Second World War. It not only offered economic stability, but secured allies and promised common respect for lasting peace, free movement and mutual support.

But Britain may have to leave its neighbours behind and look further afield. Without EU regulations, many claim that Britain is freer to construct relationships with the rest of the world. May stated that “countries including China, Brazil, and the Gulf States have already expressed their interest in striking trade deals with us”. Discussions have begun with Australia, New Zealand and India. And President-Elect Trump has said Britain is in “the front of the line” for a trade deal with America.”

 ***

 The previous government had no plans for Brexit, and it has taken the new Prime Minister up until the 17th of this month to state what her negotiating goals were.

Theresa May’s government department for Brexit is made up of:
Veteran Conservative MP David Davis (let’s hope he’s not as uncreative as his parents),
Former defense secretary and new trade secretary Liam Fox,
and the official leader of the Leave campaign and now foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.

The Government is hoping that deals will made within the space of 2 years, however, considering the legalities, this seems extremely optimistic. Only time will tell.

 


Key Terms

 

  1. Brexit – Britain’s departure from the European Union, therefore abolishing the Union’s overruling laws and privileges for UK citizens.
  2. Bregret – What citizens felt when they realised what they had voted for, following the results. The wish to change one’s referendum ballot vote the following day.
  3. Representative, or Parliamentary Democracy – Democratic form of government in which the party with the greatest representation in the parliament forms the government, with its leader becoming prime minister. If UK citizens do not interact with their representative in Parliament, and do not vote, then democracy fails.
  4. Government – The party elected into power every five years. Its leader becomes prime minister and they select their ministers of state.
  5. Parliament – The supreme legislative body of the UK and its territories. Ensures citizen’s decisions are taken into account by the government. Its head is the Queen of England. It is made up of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
  6. Supreme Court – Ultimate domestic court of appeal for all United Kingdom civil cases, and criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It concentrates on cases of the greatest public and constitutional importance.
  7. House of Commons– MPs from each region voted for by the public, along with the Prime Minister and their MPs, make up the House of Commons. They together debate laws.
  8. House of Lords –review approve chamber which debates laws proposed by MPs. Once the two houses agree, the Queen approves the changes. Some Lords inherit their title, others are selected by prime minister and appointed by the Queen.
  9. Single Market – freedom of movement and regulation for products and services within member states of the agreement.

Rhetoric explained:

“Britain will be Safer, stronger and better off in a reformed European Union” [Cameron]
“Vote for me to be your Prime Minister, then forget I ever mentioned it”.

“The £350 million a week we pay to the EU will go to the NHS”
“The £350 million a week we pay to the EU will not go to the NHS”

Hard Brexit- “Let’s get out now and forget EU laws and trade. Britain is strong, independent and proud.”

Soft Brexit- “Let’s crawl out, cutting a few ties, but keeping many things the same. We’re a fabulous country but we need the EU, besides, no one can be bothered to renegotiate.”

“Brexit means Brexit” – “We’re going to do something so we don’t look like fools.”

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  1. juancarlosmartinezcastro

    Los ingleses siempre se han creído superiores al resto de la humanidad y el Brexit es prueba de ello. Pero en realidad no lo son y de hecho tienen más atraso en muchos aspectos que otros países como es el tener monarquía, una vieja y perversa institución que aún mantienen y de la que se ufanan.

    • rebecca631028

      De acuerdo, Juan Carlos, que los ingleses son muy arrogantes especialmente en esta decisión. Hay que tener en mente la propaganda que nos enfrontó en todos lados del país y en todos los medios de communicación. Hay que pensar también en la mitad de la población que no apoyaron el Brexit, y la multitud de ingleses que no se creen superiores.
      Aunque parece que la monarquía tiene poder absoluto, en realidad el parlamento es más poderoso que ella, y ella actúa más como una figure insigne que trae plata al país en la forma del turismo, de la mercadería y los mismos tabloides.

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