A Layman’s Guide To The Brexit Debate
All eyes and ears are towards the Referendum of United Kingdom to leave the European Union. Numerous debates have been held over this issue around the world, and various predictions have been made regarding the potential fall out and consequences of this decision. Let us explore the various dimensions of Brexit and link its stepping stones from its initiation towards its projected end.
Back in the 19th and early 20th century, Britain was described as that Great Empire over where the sun never sets. It’s influence and magnanimity was extended far and beyond. But then gradually, history took its course and The Great Britain concluded to the extent of what we see it now; England, Wales and Scotland being its constituents.
After the World War II, it was struck once more with the danger to secure its territories and influence. Which is why it aimed at becoming part of the European Economic Community in 1961, as this would reduce the chances of states going to war with their own member states and form a “United States of Europe” as Winston Churchill so passionately promoted. But this was vetoed by France twice, remarking that Britain’s economy and agricultural work practices were incompatible with the common market. At Britain’s earnest third attempt after the presidency of Charles de Gaulle relinquished, Britain was finally admitted to the European Common Market in 1973.
Soon after two years a referendum was held to ascertain whether UK should remain in the EEC. Satisfaction was shown in the direction of continuing its membership by the mainstream media and major political parties but prominent splits within the ruling Labor Party were seen. Later the opposition Labor party started campaigning for the 1983 general elections on their commitment to withdraw from EU. This policy preference was subsequently changed by the Labor Party as the Conservative Government of Margaret Thatcher got re-elected.
However, in 2016 the “need to acknowledge full hearted support of the British people” to stay in UK was shown concern by David Cameron and so the most conferred about referendum is what we see as a result of it. Nonetheless, the Conservative Party’s stance on staying in EU remains the same even if such referendums are triggered by them in the first place. Ironically, the once much united Labor Party on its policy to leave EU is seen to be divided on this standpoint and sailed further from its 1983 manifesto by some of its prominent members.
Another peculiar turn out of the referendum result was observed this year. The only two countries, Shetland and Western Isles, of UK out of the 68 states who had voted to leave in 1975 are in favor of remaining in EU according to the referendum results this year.
It brings us to examine the tug of war between LEAVE and REMAIN motives of United Kingdom as a whole. The leave supporters have various reasons to believe that exiting from EU is the best decision for UK. The reason of such a conception is that according to them EU regulation laws overrules the national laws of state, which is why they believe the state’s sovereignty is being compromised by such intervening laws that are under the authority of EU such as agriculture, copyright and patent law, competition policy etc. In addition to this, the Leave group suggests that the corporate elites will gain access to more power under EU since it has an anti-democratic structure, and thus the British left will not be able to make much gains.
The supporters of Leave argument also suggest that Brexit will regain Britain the control over its borders and pull down the notch on immigration which will in turn provide more jobs and ensure social security to the people of Britain. Controlling the borders also mean closing the doors to unchecked visitors that were a possible threat to peace and security of Britain.
Leave supporters are also unsatisfied by the amount of money that is annually contributed to the EU budget, although this money is used for services in the UK but nonetheless, Brexit supporters want the UK’s parliament to decide how it is spent for UK rather than EU being the custodian of it.
Whereas, the voters for Remain also have quite convincing arguments. Britain is daydreaming if it thinks that it can cater to resolve all problems without any co-operation. Terrorism, cybercrimes, climate change, tax evasion, all these problems require cooperation, which means Britain must compromise for its well-being in a globalized community. This does not mean sovereignty of Britain is being challenged by EU. All international arrangements such as WTO and NATO involve its pooling in too. Also, regulations imposed by EU are for harmonizing the standards around the entire European Community for equality among its member states, what is the harm in that?
As for the perceived problem of immigration posed by the Leave side, the Remain group believes immigration is a great way for cultural exchange and immigrants are not the reason for painting a bleak picture in terms of services, it is the incompetency of the government to provide resources is what should be held accountable. On the other side, the net positive contributions seen in the Britain finances is made by the immigrants that have come to Britain.
The “project hate” campaigned by the Leave group, as framed by the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, says that Turkey will join the EU which is another reason for securing Britain’s border. But why has the Leave proponents become so desperate that they are quoting facts that have no basis as yet, since we see Turkey going in the opposite direction than the democratic freedom demands that EU requires of its member states.
Another foremost concern of this Brexit Debate is the economy. Official trade statistics show that much of Britain’s goods find their place in EU. Also, the trading link that has been developed between Britain and other countries around the world is due to the free-trade agreement that Britain has with EU. Other inconveniences include additional cost imposed over the exporters outside of this trade union. The private banks and businesses that have been setup in Britain might also move to other states in the European Union.
The essence that we can draw from this debate between the two is that Leave regards themselves as optimistic since they’re hopeful of a better and a lot more independent future for UK, while Remain call themselves as realist who believe that once you’re out, there’s no going back, as says Ruth Davidson, member of the Scottish Parliament, in her concluding statement for Remain in front of the Webley audience.
Irrespective of such debates, the official call for Brexit cannot be attained before invoking the article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. After which, Britain will formally declare itself to leave European Union and establish the legal ground of its relations with other countries. It will take a course of two years for the treaty to cease its application on Britain, between this period Britain representatives will not be allowed to sit in the European Commission’s meetings.
It leaves us to question whether the predictions of French President, Charles De Gaulle, was right about how the membership of Britain will result in the breakdown of the European Economic Community? As we witness today that how its withdrawal will result in suspected potential follow up of other countries to leave European Union as well.