Brexit: What’s Next?
European Union referendum has been in limelight for a long time. Brexit- Britain’s secession from European Union has raised many political debates around the world, discussing the future of Britain. On 23rd June 2016, the day of EU referendum, United Kingdom finally settled the question that has been a major issue of the British politics-whether it should remain a part of European Union or leave. As the United Kingdom voted to leave with majority of 52%, its exit has become quite evident.
The victory of Leave over Remain is not adequate to declare “I Quit”. Hence, UK has to invoke agreement called as the Article 50 of Lisbon Treaty. The provision in EU constitution has set ground rules of exit for any state to withdraw its membership from European Union. Once the article is triggered, it will provide the member states a period of two years to cut a deal.
European Union is a regional body that was formed to foster good relations among the member states in order to avoid any future war. It is a politico-economic partnership with the objective of the introduction of single market. It means free movement of all goods and services across the borders of the member states. The establishment of single market has resulted in the economic uplift of the entire region which has benefited all the member states including UK. But now UK leaving EU starts a new debate over the possible challenges and consequences it has to face as a result of this divorce.
The first and foremost challenge that UK has to face is in terms of its economic progress. The immediate implication of which was recorded soon after the final result of referendum as the pound plunged to a level that was not seen since 1985. However, this is just a beginning as a lot more for United Kingdom.
If they are able to negotiate on the free trade deal then the situation would be quite different than what is expected. Moreover, United Kingdom will also miss out on all the future trade deals made between European Union and the major powers. The important part of all is the ongoing negotiation between European Union and United States, to establish a world’s biggest free trade area which will greatly affect the business. But who knows what United Kingdom has planned for itself.
Diverging point of views are witnessed about the inward investment. Those in favor of Brexit argue that it’s an opportunity for United Kingdom to re-develop its market free from all the rules of European Union by following the model of Singapore- styled economy. Pro-Europeans, on the other hand, consider that investment companies would either reduce or end their production when United Kingdom will no longer remain the gateway to European Union.
Another headline-grabbing discussion regarding the Brexit was over the immigration. EU law allows the free movement of people across the EU member states. Subsequently, UK cannot restrict immigrants from the member states to enter the region. Huge number of Britons have been working outside UK while millions from other states are residing and working in UK too. The exit of UK from EU has left both with a great difficulty of determining the status of immigrants. Brexit campaigners are of the view that UK could formulate new strategies regarding the free movement of people and regain control over the borders. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. There are bundle of things that UK needs to think about before coming up with any rule as trade, investment, business and immigration are all interlinked.
Security is also a major concern in Europe. The former chiefs of defense staff Lord Bramall and Jock Stirrup, said that the EU is an “increasingly important pillar of our security, especially at a time of instability in the Middle East and in the face of resurgent Russian nationalism and aggression.” Moreover, the cooperation of EU and NATO over the security issue is also a significant development for the European countries. UK was greatly benefited by being the part of EU but now it is time for UK to reshape its strategies.
In the longer run, most perceived threat for UK is a breakdown of the empire. United Kingdom consisted of four countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island. Analyzing the voting percentage separately, the majority of Scotland and Northern Island voted to REMAIN in EU but overall LEAVE voters won the referendum. This signifies the instability within the Kingdom. Previously, in 2014, Scottish people have already held a referendum to make Scotland an independent state and 44% voted in favor of it. UK leaving EU could trigger the Scottish separatist to start a campaign for an independent country, thus breaking the Kingdom. One of the Scottish leaders has already signaled about the second referendum. Similarly, Northern Island could also demand the reunification of the rest of Ireland by leaving UK.
Conclusively, I would say that it is too early to predict the future of UK as everything is yet to be decided. It entirely depends on the concluding agreement following the negotiations between the European Union and United Kingdom. It’s not just a new start for United Kingdom which is paved with challenges, but also a major turn in European history that could set precedence for other states to shun the integration model of Europe. This might prove to be a point that may lead the circumstances towards European disintegration. But I believe that there is always something more to a story.