On 23 June, 2016 Britain decided to seek a divorce from the European Union (EU). 29th March 2019 was marked as the prospective date for the final separation. There is a lot of confusion and excitement around this event due to its possible implications on economy, employment, trade, and much more, not only for the EU and the UK, but also for the world in general. What is Brexit and why there was a need for it at all, we deliver here an understanding that you can grasp in 5 minutes or less.
What is Brexit |Its Meaning
Let’s start with the origin and meaning of the term. ‘Brexit’ came into use to indicate Britain’s exit from the EU, just like the term ‘Grexit’ that was coined to suggest the hypothetical situation of Greece leaving the Eurozone. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “Brexit” was introduced by Peter Wilding, the originator of the campaign ‘British Influence’, created to spread awareness about why the UK should stay with EU. It’s ironic that though the campaign did not serve its purpose, the term ‘Brexit’ caught popular fancy and continues to be used for denoting the event.
The 2016 EU referendum, where voters had to decide whether they were pro or anti Brexit, unveiled the bitter relationship between the EU and the UK. The European Economic Community, which eventually became to be known as the European Union or EU, was founded by the treaty of Paris in 1957. Luxembourg, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and West Germany became the member of this treaty. The idea was to strengthen economic bond between the European nations and reduce the risk of wars between them post World War II.
In 1963, Britain wanted to become its member. But the then President of France Charles de Gaulle rejected its plea as he was reportedly weary of the American influence on Britain. Also the danger that English could replace French as the main language deterred him. However, the UK successfully entered this treaty in 1973 after the President of France retired.
From there on, the issue whether UK should stay in the EU was raised many times. But in the recent times a few concerns expedited this event. It included:
- EU’s overpowering influence on the UK’s sovereignty
- Some Brussels regulations perceived as expensive to follow
- EU’s liberal migration policy affecting employment, education, and health systems in Britain
EU Referendum Vote / Brexit Poll
The EU referendum was organized because the then Prime Minister of UK, David Cameron (Conservative Party), had stated during 2015 general elections that he would work on renegotiating the terms of Britain’s membership to the EU and there would be an in-and-out public poll conducted to take into consideration people’s choice. Although all the political parties supported the notion of staying with the EU, 7 of the 23 members of the conservative party cabinet remained divided on the issue. They opposed the ‘Stay’ campaign. As a result, Cameron also gave permission to the ministers to choose their side openly during the poll.
On 23 June 2016, Britain voted on the matter whether it should continue to be a member of the EU. Overall 52% voted to exit the European Union and 48% voted to stay put. England (53.4%) and Wales (52.5%) supported the ‘Leave’ movement, whereas Scotland (62.0%) chose to go with the ‘Stay’ campaign. In the Brexit poll, over 30 million people participated.
One of the first effects of Britain’s exit from the EU was witnessed when Theresa May assumed the position of the Prime Minister of UK after David Cameron stepped down facing defeat in the referendum. Theresa May did not support the idea of leaving the EU initially, but then she decided to go with the people’s choice. She is working on ‘Leave the EU’ process that would take around 2 years for full realization.
Another key impact of Brexit could be seen in the area of economy. Contrary to the popular belief that Britain’s economy would doom post exiting EU, its economy saw 1.8% growth in 2016 and continued with the same trajectory for 2017. A 4.3% drop was also noticed in the rate of unemployment. On the flip side, the rate of Inflation grew to 3.1% (the peak in almost six years).
The Brexit separation process is currently underway. We will be tracking all developments. Keep visiting www,brexit.in for the latest updates!