In a referendum on 23 June 2016, a small majority (52%) of those voting supported leaving the EU. On 29 March 2017, the UK government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. The United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 at 11 p.m. when the period for negotiating a withdrawal agreement will end unless an extension is agreed. There is a broad consensus in existing economic research that Brexit is likely to reduce the UK’s real per capita income in the medium term and long term. There is also agreement among economists that the Brexit referendum itself damaged the economy in the subsequent two years.
Studies on effects that have materialised since the referendum show annual losses of £404 for the average UK household from increased inflation, and losses between 2% and 2.5% of UK GDP. Brexit is likely to reduce immigration from European Economic Area (EEA) countries to the UK, and poses challenges for UK higher education and academic research. As of August 2018, the size of the ‘divorce bill’, the UK’s inheritance of existing EU trade agreements, and relations with Ireland and other EU member states remain uncertain.
The precise impact on the UK depends on whether the process will be a ‘hard’ or a ‘soft’ Brexit. Negotiations with the EU officially started in June 2017, aiming to complete the withdrawal agreement by October 2018. In June 2018, the UK and the EU published a joint progress report outlining agreement on issues including customs, VAT and Euratom.
‘The European way is also the United Nations’ way. This explains why all our actions, all our initiatives are always taken in full coordination and partnership with the UN. We believe in the UN, because we believe in the same principles, in the same values, and our communities arebuilt upon the same fundamental ideals’. – High Representative/ Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the UN Security Council, 9 May 2017. The EU welcomes the elaboration of the three mutually reinforcing UN reform tracks: peace and security, development, management.
The EU will continue its political and diplomatic outreach to build a coalition in support of UN reform to accompany the start of implementation in 2019. The EU will continue to strive for clarity, transparency, efficiency, effectiveness and accountability as key principles guiding UN action.
Convincing the British electorate that we have every interet in delaying Brexit and giving the EU a chance to respond to our grievances, will be the easier of the two tasks. Many are already convinced. Since the referendum, in addition to the 48% of Britons who voted to remain, a non-negligible proportion of those who voted in favor of Brexit would appear to have changed their minds.
These are some of the many people who did not actually vote against Europe as an institution, but against its way of operating, against the ‘uncontrolled’ immigration caused by total freedom of movement between countries, against European bureaucratic pettifoggery and perceived intervention in the sovereign affairs of the country. If these complaints can be addressed by the EU before Britain activates Article 50, then May will be able to call a new referendum based on a new situation – or simply explain that the demands of the British public have been met, and that Britain will not therefore exit the European Union. There will be no reason to leave.
The splenetic right-wing hard Brexit fundamentalist popular tabloid newspapers, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, and the Sun, regularly explode with vitriolic indignation when anyone suggests having a second referendum; they will go into overdrive if and when Brexit is delayed or cancelled. But these newspapers have absolutely no mandate whatsoever to dictate how Britain should be run.
Questions to Consider
- What are the post-Brexit economic freedoms the U.K. should aim to exploit?
- What policies should the U.K. put in place to protect and encourage this industry?
- What will happen to all the EU, non British citizens living in the UK because of the EU freedom of movement law?