Brexit is a neologism created to refer to the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. It is the union of two abbreviated English words: Britain, which means ‘British’, and exit, which translates ‘exit’.
The term brexit was popularized in the media regarding the referendum campaign that asked British citizens their opinion about the permanence (brimain = Britain remain) or exit (brexit) of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland in the European Union.
Referendum for Brexit
The referendum took place on June 23, 2016. It was activated by Prime Minister David Cameron, a member of the conservative party, who was in favor of permanence. However, once the results were known, which gave approximately 52% of votes in favor of departure, against 48% against, Cameron resigned. After this event, Theresa May took office.
The United Kingdom is made up of England, Wales and Scotland, as well as Northern Ireland. Of these four nations, only England and Wales voted mostly for the exit, while Scotland and Northern Ireland, like the English city of London, were favorable to permanence.
Brexit campaign: advantages and disadvantages of belonging to the EU
The campaign in favor of Brexit was promoted by different political and social actors of the Eurosceptic and Independence line, who considered disadvantageous and harmful for the interests of the United Kingdom to be part of the European Union.
Among the disadvantages of being part of the European Union , those favorable to Brexit included :
- The regulations imposed by the EU on economic matters.
- The lack of independence in political and economic decisions.
- The huge flow of immigrants attracted by the high level of income in search of work.
The supporters of the permanence, meanwhile, made their campaign based on the advantages of belonging to the European Union. Among them we can list the main ones:
- The free market that was accessed with member countries of the union.
- The free movement of goods, people and capital within the union.
Causes of Brexit
From the beginning, the United Kingdom has a long history of opposition to the European Union. Already in 1975 a referendum had previously been held to ask citizens for their opinion regarding the permanence of the United Kingdom in the European Union, eventually known as the European Economic Community, which had been integrated in 1973. But that referendum He gave the victory to permanence.
However, the scenario of the years prior to 2016, with the aftermath of the economic crisis, the sharpening of the refugee crisis and the exponential increase in the number of immigrants arriving in the British Isles from other European countries, gave arguments for brexit supporters to build their majority.
On the other hand, it is important to note that the result of the referendum is not binding, which means that for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, the parliament would still have to repeal a series of laws. Thus, parliamentarians could block the exit, although this would be an option of enormous political cost because it would mean going against the will of the electorate.
However, leaving the European Union is a right of the Member States, as set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
Possible consequences of Brexit
For its part, the consequences of the United Kingdom effectively leaving the European Union would be several, including:
- Possibility to stop receiving the benefits of the so-called “four fundamental freedoms” of the European Union. These are: the free movement of workers, as well as merchandise, services and capital.
- The fall of British bonds.
- The crash of British currency, the pound sterling.
- The increase in xenophobic violence, with racist nuances.
- A potential rupture of the United Kingdom between the countries that voted for permanence in the EU (Scotland, Northern Ireland), and those that voted against (England, Wales).
The exit agreement was a proposal presented by British Prime Minister Theresa May before the British parliament to negotiate Brexit. This agreement included the following aspects:
- Establish a transition period to negotiate Brexit conditions and prepare for possible consequences and collateral damage. This period would end on December 31, 2020.
- Pay to the EU an amount equivalent to 50,000 million dollars in compensation for the cancellation of the commitments acquired by the United Kingdom when joining.
- Guarantee the acquired rights of citizens of the United Kingdom living and working in the countries of the European Union and vice versa.
- Impose a safeguard measure that prevents the establishment of a physical border between Northern Ireland, a member of the United Kingdom, and Ireland. This implies that, at least temporarily, Northern Ireland would be governed by some of the EU customs control laws and regulations, not the rest of the United Kingdom.
The exit agreement was categorically rejected by the British Parliament on January 15, 2019, with 432 votes against and and only 202 in favor.