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Why did the United Kingdom Leave the European Union?

B.A. Political Science, Member of®
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The United Kingdom has always been a major power in Europe and this great nation has always tried to influence other nations in Europe. This country tried to keep a balance of power in Europe which prevented any single European country from dominating the continent.  Therefore, the UK was not used to depend on European countries to set its own foreign, military, and trade policies. The UK used to enact its own laws and decide alone what was best for itself. Sovereignty lied at the center of the British dream; this island has succeeded over centuries to be as much independent from Europe as it could. For that reason, this was hard for this nation work within the framework of the EU membership. Thus, Britain no longer wanted to remain in the European Union because it had to share its sovereignty with other nations. Brexit shows that the people wanted to get back full control over immigration, foreign policies, job creation, and legislations.

To begin with, the British Government now wants to negotiate trade deals with other nations without having to reach consensus with 28 European countries. Leaving the European Union would allow Britain to define alone its foreign policy in terms of trade. As a result, the UK would decide which economic sector should be opened to international markets and which industry should be protected from foreign competition. If the UK withdraws from the EU, this means the UK can re-organize its economy to better serve its needs. Consequently, the United Kingdom wants to be free to make stronger trade deals with other nations on its own terms. Besides, several British people expect that Brexit improves the overall economy and create more jobs.

Furthermore, the UK expects to have better control over borders by leaving the European Union. The British people are concerned about uncontrolled mass migration from Europe. Open borders make it easier for terrorists to enter to Britain. The UK fears that some terrorists might get citizenship from another European country than move to Britain afterwards. Besides, British people think that the EU has weak border security which can help smugglers to go to the United Kingdom. For that reason, Brexit will allow Britain to strengthen its border security and better choose who gets in the country.

In addition, the United Kingdom expects to save of lot of money by leaving the European Union. For instance, Britain almost paid £15 billion (roughly $25 billion Canadian) to the European Union in 2015. Pro-Brexit supporters argue that these funds could be re-invested in social programs and in the economy. Nevertheless, the UK Telegraph reveals that the EU paid back £4.4 billion to British people and re-invested £6 billion in the British private sector in 2005. Still, many British people think that these funds could have been invested more effectively. British people consider they could better manage these large amounts of public funds.

As well, British people were tired of red tape created by EU laws. EU membership implies that another government level enacts laws and regulations. Besides, the 1972 European Communities Act states that EU law prevails over British law. As a result, several British people consider they have a mature legal system which should be independent from foreign powers. This concept of sovereignty is very important because this is at the center of the Brexit debate. The British has always considered themselves as special and independent from the rest of the World. In view of that, EU membership is no longer favoured by the United Kingdom and soon the British Parliament will get back legislative powers that have been handed over to the EU Parliament. London Mayor Boris Johnson argues that EU membership is incompatible with parliamentary sovereignty and other Brexit supporters argue that the price of leaving is worth paying to regain control.

At this time, the UK law is subject to the supremacy of EU law. This means that when there is a conflict between British and European law, the latter prevails over British law. Martin Steirnstrom, a master`s student from the University of Miami, reveals in 2005 that: ¨the EU Constitution states explicitly for the first time in a Treaty that EU law takes precedence over national law. Defenders of the Constitution say this is just an explicit statement of what is already the practice with the ECJ [European Court of Justice] already ruling that EU law is supreme over national laws.¨ This reveals the EU membership impedes the concept that the highest authority is embedded in the parliament. Therefore, EU law has diminished parliamentary supremacy. Nonetheless, Brexit supporters consider that the British Parliament should be fully sovereign. This means the UK Legislature should not have to comply with other sources of legislative authority.

Finally, the Brexit Referendum allowed this nation to express the will of Britain to remain an independent nation. Accordingly, this new beginning might encourage other EU members to leave this supranational and intergovernmental organization. The case of Britain reveals that national sovereignty prevails over stable trade deals. EU law impedes the British Parliament`s ability to enact legislations adapted to the British reality. For that reason, the British people are eager to get their full sovereignty back. The British people are highly enthusiastic and confident on restoring their economic future with new trade relations with the rest of the World. They will be able to sign alone trade deals with any country they want. Besides, EU laws and regulations will no longer be imposed on the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, this divorce might cost as much as £60 billion (nearly $100 billion Canadian) according to the European Commission.

December 29, 2016

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Vallee, Yannick, B.
By Yannick B. Vallee

Yannick B. Vallee is a political scientist who recently graduated from Bishop’s University (Quebec, Canada) in the BA program of political science. He also has a college degree of Business Administration with a specialization in marketing. Nowadays,  he specializes in American, Canadian... (Read next)

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