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Post Brexit Hangover: Britain`s Challenge to Leave the European Union

B.A. Political Science, Member of®

The United Kingdom is an island nation which greatly relies on the flow of goods in and out of the country. A need for greater self-determination was the main purpose why British people voted in favour of leaving the E.U.; however, there is currently a lot of uncertainty about Brexit because London might not get any trade deal with the European Union. London and Brussels are currently negotiating the British exit from the E.U.; nevertheless, there has not been any clear outcome coming out of Brexit negotiations. Besides, there is a chance that no transition deal be signed between Britain and the E.U. We could expect unstable markets and a scarcity in goods in the event that no trade and customs deal be signed. For that reason, British people have just started to understand the scope of challenges they have to face in order to leave the European Union. As well, there might not be any deal signed between Brussels and London.

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                To begin with, London works hard with Brussels to get reciprocal agreements on immigration, trade, and financial policies. There are 1.2 million British nationals living in the E.U. which future is uncertain if there is no deal with Brussels. The U.K. nationals are currently considered as regular E.U. nationals who can freely work and travel across Europe. However, this reality might change starting in 2019 because the U.K. is expected to officially lose its E.U. membership. As well, there are 3 million E.U. citizens in the U.K. who might be forced to leave the country once it has left the E.U. Moreover, there is currently no international border between Southern and Northern Ireland which allows free flow of goods and services. Therefore, British and Irish citizens do not need any passport to travel between Northern Ireland, U.K. and the Irish Republic. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom wants to leave both the European customs union and the single market which might bring the need to have a border between the British and the Irish sides of Ireland.

                Likewise, several people accused the ¨Leave¨ campaign of having made some false promises to them in order to win the Brexit referendum. For instance, they told people that £350 million (CDN $595 million) a week would be spent on the National Health Service; yet, leader UKIP Leader Nigel Farage told Good Morning Britain in June 2016 that this promise will likely never happen. British people have been lured into voting in favour of Brexit because the ¨Leave¨ campaign made false expectations to them. In 2017, Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: ¨The free trade agreement that we will have to do with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history¨. Conservative MP John Redwood argued that in 2016 that ¨Getting out of the E.U. can be quick and easy – the UK holds most of the cards.¨ However, the case of Brexit is not an easy topic for the May government and now several people are concerned about the future of the nation. Nevertheless, the future of Britain with the prospect of a ¨no deal¨ Brexit has never been so uncertain. The ¨Let`s Take Back Control¨ Brexit feeling has turned into in a dreadful feeling. People worry about what will happen to the British economy and what will be the impacts on jobs. As a result, the Evening Standard reveals in September 2018 that 59% of people would have voted against Brexit. Thus, people changed their mind about Brexit and a vast majority of the nation would no longer support any U.K.`s withdrawal from the E.U.

                In addition, The United Kingdom gets ready to leave the E.U. without signing any deal. This case scenario would be disastrous for Britain. For instance, 53% of the U.K.`s imports comes from the E.U. Besides, British businesses export roughly £274 billion worth of goods and services to E.U. members. Besides, the latter exports £341 billion (CDN $580 billion) to British consumers. If the U.K. fails to get a trade deal with the E.U, then, British and European economies might greatly suffer from a ¨no deal scenario¨. As a result, there will be supply shortages in food, medicine, and other essential goods. Also, there might be damaging effects over the British economy with a prospective ¨no deal¨ scenario. We can expect import disruption in several economic sectors such as: food, pharmaceutical products, oil, etc. Simon Tilford writes in The Economist in October 2018 that Britain is expected to fall into recession if the May government gets out of the E.U. without a deal. He writes: ¨There is no doubt it would fall into recession; the question is how deep that recession would be and how quickly the economy would rebound. There are good reasons to believe that the rebound would be slow.¨ Further, people are concerned about this withdrawal and the these challenges make Brexit`s support decline because people worry about social and economic future. 

                Still, former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major thinks that Brexit is not a good option for the nation. He argues that this action weakens both the U.K. and Europe; as a result, Brexit divides the continent which brings uncertainty to everyone. Besides, foreign nations such as: China and the Russian Federation are becoming more powerful while the E.U. will be soon divided. Moreover, Britain is now getting very isolated on the World scene. John Major says that the U.K. was a bridge between the U.S. and the European Union; nowadays, Britain can no longer claim to be this bridge between America and Europe. The nation lost some influence it used to have on the global scene. The British will surrender 53 trade deals by just leaving the E.U. and now this might take years to replace these trade agreements. He argues that the Leave camp lied to people by making false promises about potential opportunities created by leaving the E.U. These promises will never happen; they are pies in the sky. The former prime minister advocates for a second referendum because a U.K. outside of the E.U. might not have a bright economic future to come.

                In addition, the British government prepared itself for a ¨Doomsday Scenario¨ if the nation cannot get any trade agreement with Brussels. Brexit Secretary David Davis wrote down some of potential scenarios that Britain might face with no deal. For instance, there might be shortages of medicine, fuel, and food within a short period of time. Therefore, Her Majesty`s Government in Britain gets ready to cope with the negative impacts of a no deal Brexit. As well, the Governor of the Bank of England, Canadian Mark Carney, thinks that a no deal Brexit could be a catastrophe for Britain; consequently this could trigger a financial crisis. He thinks that the U.K. should leave the E.U. on good terms with a good deal.

                Moreover, former Prime Minister Tony Blair describes well on BBC the basic dilemma the nation is facing. On the one hand, if the U.K. remains close to Europe to minimize economic damage caused by Brexit, then people will wonder about the point of leaving. On the other hand, if the U.K. signs a hard Brexit deal, then there will be significant economic disruptions. Therefore, this is not an easy task for the current Conservative government to solve the Brexit issues. Besides, there might not be social and economic deal with the E.U. and a no deal Brexit will greatly damage the nation`s economy. Therefore, Britain is on the brink to experience its worst economic crisis never seen in recent decades. Furthermore, Mr. Blair supports the idea of having a second referendum Brexit.

                Finally, a British withdrawal from the E.U. could cause economic problems all over the nation. Brussels did not receive well May`s proposal on the post Brexit relationship between the U.K. and the E.U. Thus, there is some possibility that the nation leaves the E.U. without any deal which is would not be good for the economy. In consequence, there is a dead end in Brexit’s negotiation because Prime Minister Elisabeth May wants his nation to keep some privileges on the single market. Likewise, the British people no longer support Brexit and some of May`s opponents want to have a second referendum to overturn Brexit. Besides, the Bank of England expects an economic shock if there is a British withdrawal from the E.U. Therefore, British people now realize the real outcome of Brexit which is the end of frictionless trade in goods and the end of the current free movement of people between the U.K. and the European Continent. The divorce will be made official at the end of March 2019, but there is no clear plan yet to deal with Brexit. As a result, the support of Britain`s withdrawal with the Union is getting low. This shows that there should have been a clearer plan before getting a referendum on Brexit; the Cameron government was too confident in winning the referendum and they simply had no backup plan in the event that the ¨Yes¨ side wins. If Brexit negotiations fail, perhaps, Brexit will be reversed; therefore, the U.K. will remain part of the E.U.


October 5, 2018


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Yannick B. Vallée
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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