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Brexit – What’s really happening?

On the 23rd June all of us woke up to realise that the unthinkable had actually happened… Britain had voted to exit the European Union. However, the voting margin was so close that many questioned and still question whether such a huge decision could go ahead without a second vote. Despite over 4 million people petitioning to have a second EU referendum, British parliament has stuck to their guns by saying there was no threshold on votes and that Brexit would go ahead. Not only did we wake up to the reality that Britain had drawn a line on its membership with the European Union but we also saw the country become drastically divided with the 52% of Brexit campaigners and eurosceptics thrilled to bits that Britain was a step closer to ‘independence’ and the other 48% ashamed and in utter disbelief this was actually happening.

It didn’t take long to see the after effects of Brexit… we also awakened to see that the pound was at an all time low, in fact the lowest it had ever been in 30 years and the stock markets were crashing because of it. Then, of course, there was the utter outrage that we saw from those strongly in favour of remaining, which went viral pretty darn quickly. Yes… I’m talking about the cyclist who approached a group of Eurosceptics to tell them off and ask them to reflect about what they had done to the country but my all-time favourite has to be Boris Johnson getting jeered at by a crowd of pro-EU campaigners outside his home on the 24th June.  And to add to the ridiculousness of the situation, we witnessed Nigel Farage’s emotive speech at the European Parliament. Not only did he rub Brexit in EU officials’ faces but he also made some pretty outrageous comments, such as ‘none of them had actually had a real job in their lives and claimed that EU countries would lose out more if they did not trade with the UK (Oh the irony of it all). This statement might have made Farage feel smug but all he got from the EU officials were snickers and disapproval. On the other hand, the Scottish MEP, Alyn Smith’s speech was received with great acclaim whilst at one point it seemed to have momentarily wiped the smug look off Farage’s face.

For Bremainers, this was mildly satisfying to watch but it was sad and scary to see that this decision was potentially causing the United Kingdom to fall apart. With Scotland SNP first minister, Nicola Sturgeon saying that Scotland would most likely hold a second independence referendum so that they could remain part of the European Union should Brexit go ahead and talks of Northern Ireland and the Republic Ireland forming an Irish Union just so Northern Ireland could stay in the European Union. Is this really what Brexiters intended? It doesn’t seem like it because soon after the vote, many Britons were googling what the E.U. actually was (Yes you better believe it! Some people didn’t even know what they were voting for)! Many but not all, do regret voting to leave but what is done is done.

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As if the above wasn’t bad enough, on the 24th June the country also went into political turmoil when David Cameron resigned as PM after losing the campaign to stay in Europe and announcing the country needed a new leadership to go ahead with what would be a lengthy divorce process from Europe. The best of all was that 4 days later on the 28th, the pioneer of the Brexit campaign, Nigel Farage, also stood down as UKIP leader, stating that he ‘wanted his life back.’ What a reason! Everyone behind Brexit was standing down just like rats abandoning a sinking ship! So obviously the pound took another pounding during the time it was leaderless (around two weeks). But when Theresa May was appointed as the second lady Prime Minister, people were filled with hope and the pound stabilised slightly. The hope instilled in many of the pro-European campaigners was short lived after Theresa May’s ‘Brexit means Brexit and we’ll make a success out of it’ speech. So her and her new government (including Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary) had the hefty task of steering Britain away from Europe and in a new direction from Wednesday 13th July 2016.

maySo what’s actually been happening since Theresa May came into power? Well, not much apart from lots of talks but other than this not much has advanced. We’re still in Europe (woohoo!) and they’re not even sure when to trigger Article 50 (the two-year process that will eventually divorce the UK from Europe). Scottish Independence Talks have also died down – probably because the current government is still none the wiser how to go about this whole Brexit situation. The thing is, Theresa May has suggested that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty could be triggered as early as the beginning of next year but this is still very unclear and uncertain, given the fact that there will be a series of elections occurring in Europe in 2017 (mainly French and German elections) and whether the UK goes forward with Brexit also depends on this. What Theresa May would probably be wanting to avoid next year is initiating Article 50 and then having other countries in the Eurozone not heed any attention to the negotiations that Brexit would ensue. So delaying Article 50 until later in 2017 may be a preferable option for May and her cabinet. However, many believe that Brexit will happen before 2020, seeing this is when the EU sets its new budget so it would be convenient for them to have the UK out of the Union by then not to mention the fact there will be general elections in the UK in 2020 and no one wants to have that on their backs when campaigning. So we know that the UK will most probably be out of the EU by 2020 but when exactly Article 50 will be triggered is still up in the air. Downing Street has been pretty invasive as to when it will be triggered that’s for sure and contrary to what Boris Johnson recently said, the article will not be evoked this year as May and her government are working on their negotiations.

eu-presidentAnd so they should be because can the UK really profit from the Single Market without being a member of the EU? Boris Johnson is adamant that the UK will strike a deal with the EU regarding staying in the single market. However, according to the EU Parliament, Britain will not be able to access the single market without free movement. In other words, they cannot close out EU nationals and then profit from the movement of goods that the EU has. Furthermore, it is unlikely the EU Parliament will lax on this, given the fact that they do want to give other EU state members any funny ideas but then could there be a middle ground where the UK is allowed to restrict migration but still remain in the EU and will this therefore, content the Britons enough for them to revoke Brexit? Who knows? Things are still just as uncertain as they were on the 24th June, the only difference is that we’re over the shock and the only thing we can do from now on is see how things pan out. The cards have been laid down and no one is sure what the next move will be, we just have to wait but whatever it be, it best be a well-thought move.

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Negotiating Brexit – probably as easy as the chess game in Harry Potter!

 

Brexit V Bremain – As it stands!

The British are now just a week away from making one of biggest decisions in decades – whether to remain or leave the EU. This debate has been built up over two years after UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, felt pressured to reform British membership within the EU by the opposition. Last year we saw the massive boost of votes that UKIP saw during the general election after what seemed like quite a successful campaign for them. Three million people voted for UKIP in last year’s general election even though a lot of UKIP’s stances are quite frankly outrageous. It was very evident in UKIP’s campaign that they clearly disliked everything to do with the European Parliament but obviously enjoy cashing in from it (Yes… because Britain does cash in from the EU despite what everyone else says).

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 17.44.06UKIP’s increase in popularity has somewhat reformed the UK’s politics by pushing for tighter laws on immigration and of course, for this IN OR OUT Referendum that will be held next week. Its popularity arose because it attracted some pretty unhappy and bitter supporters of other parties and although, they are right to emphasise the need for tighter regulations on immigration, however some of their campaigns stirred up negatively strong opinions causing many instances of offence and outrage and what’s worse is that the party did not even seem to condemn this. It has continued to opt for simple arguments rather than detailed ones and the party is quick to shoot any reasoned argument down. Unfortunately, these simplistic arguments are what people are interested in and we have continued to see an array of often contradictory arguments from political members throughout the in or out campaign.

So what BREXIT arguments are being used?

Brexit’s main argument is founded on the issue of immigration. The EU is constantly growing and after Croatia joining last year, there are currently five other candidate countries waiting for EU membership such as Serbia and Turkey. According to the Migration Observatory, from 2004 – 2014 annual migration levels ranged around 245,000 people which is almost four times the amount of annual immigrants that moved into the UK between 1991 – 1999 at just 65,000. Bearing in mind that from 2004 – 2014, thirteen new countries joined the EU, this figure is quite normal. However, the British are worried that with five other countries in line to join the EU at anytime, immigration will become out of control given the fact EU members have a direct right to be able to live in the UK if they wish. Therefore, Britain can only have control of immigration if they leave the EU. This argument then leads onto the next argument… the saturation of the UK job market. Immigrants are being blamed for a lack of jobs and low pay. There are many more arguments but the third biggest is focused on British law and how Britain needs to get back their sovereignty (i.e. sovereignty will allow the UK to adapt and follow its own laws without the approval from the EU supreme court).

And what are the reasons to BREMAIN?

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If the UK leaves the EU the picture won’t be as rosy as painted by Boris Johnson and co. Where Boris Johnson has assured fellow Brits that they can indeed survive and prosper without being in the EU, the current Prime Minister has urged UK voters to think carefully about this decision as voting out will more than likely ‘have an immediate hit to the economy’. The Prime Minister acknowledges that the EU needs reform but still believes that it is in the interest of the British to remain within the EU and I couldn’t agree more.

For instance, leaving the EU would not resolve the UK’s immigration crisis at all. In fact according to The Telegraph, Britain would have to deal with it on its doorstep! And as for immigration’s effect on the job market – well that’s the least of the problems because coming out of the EU will cause many UK businesses to tumble down leaving many without jobs! Did you know that approximately 3 million jobs are linked to the EU… Obviously leaving is counterproductive and will be catastrophic.

Other reasons to counteract the arguments given for BREXIT include:

  • The UK is actually a lot safer within the EU: Rapist, murderers and other serious delinquents who commit offences in Britain and attempt to flee are returned to the country thanks to the European Arrest Warrant that they have set in place.
  • UK Business will not thrive outside the EU: Brexit supporters say that the EU prevents them from making business deals with emerging markets such as China and that leaving would allow them to sustain relationships with these markets. HOWEVER, Bremainers urge that the business that the UK has with EU countries shouldn’t be forgotten. Remember almost half of the UK’s exports go to other European counties. In addition, the EU actually facilitates trade between EU member states and leaving would be utterly stupid in this sense.
  • Leaving the EU will not give the UK financial stability and London would not remain the leading financial centre! Banks will be forced to leave the UK and London will no longer be the centre of finance. Banks benefit much more from being in the EU due to again, TRADING ADVANTAGES. Even the owner of JP Morgan will be voting BREMAIN because he knows how detrimental leaving would be to banking and his employees.
  • More expensive supermarket prices: Britain is renowned for being one of the most diverse countries and this evident through the wide range of international cuisine available. Can you imagine wine prices being hiked up even more because you’re no longer part of the EU? Can you imagine more expensive food in general just because it’s imported from abroad? It would be working class families that would be most affected by hiked up prices not Boris Johnson and other politicians.
  • The sterling could fall quite considerably: Economists believe that the Pound sterling could fall by 2.2% by 2030 (See image from Open Europe below). 

     

    Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 17.44.29That means that poorer families will take the brunt of this drop because there will be benefit cuts. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research estimates that working class families could lose up to £5,542 per year in tax credits and benefits by just 2020.(See image below).

  • Our biggest trader the US will prioritise the EU and its member states. You heard it from the man himself, “Brexit would put UK back of the queue for trade talks (Obama, during his visit to London, April 2016).
  • More restricted travelling and more expensive roaming charges: Perhaps I think too much into other less important things but as someone in my mid twenties I still want to travel and Easyjet and Ryanair have some pretty awesome prices because of deals these companies have set up with the EU. Whatever would have to Ryanair and Easyjet?! Their most predominant routes are to European countries. We all love to pay for a £35.99 flight to a nice, hotter getaway somewhere in Europe but those flights will be wiped out almost as quickly as the dinosaurs were millions of years ago if Britain leaves the EU. Mobile network charges will go up too… it will just be a huge hassle and it will feel like the more financially restricted of us will have to stick to spending our summer holidays in Cornwall with mild temperatures as opposed to sunbathing on the golden coast of Costa del Sol!

As it stands people are slightly more in favour of Brexit (polls show 53% are for Brexit and 47% are for Bremain) given their stronger campaigning efforts. However, don’t just listen to the simplistic arguments from Nick Farage, Boris Johnson and others alike. Really do your research on it and find out exactly what the EU is about. I’m not saying the EU is perfect because it’s not and it’s got a long way to go but we stand stronger united, especially with other worldwide crisis’ going on. I mean look at the image below because it says a lot about the current situation: Whom would you trust most?

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