Brexit explained
Brexit explained Image Credit: GN

In case you didn’t know, the word Brexit is a combination of "Britain" and "exit" and what it is, is the imminent withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU).

Quick EU history

The European Union is a group of 28 European countries that are tied by an economic and political alliance. This understanding led the way for the use of the euro and permits citizens in the EU to travel and settle across borders without a passport.

When did this idea of Brexit really start?

January 2013: British Prime Minister David Cameron promises a referendum on Britain’s membership in the EU if the Conservative party is elected in the next general election. A referendum is when someone (in this case Cameron) asks all the people in a country to give their opinion about/or decide on an important political or social question. In this case it was: Should the UK stay in the European Union?

What was the major turning point?

In June, 2016, nearly all citizens of voting age—over 30 million people voted and the result of the referendum was that the UK decided to officially sever ties with the EU. In the referendum, 52 per cent of people voted to leave the EU and 48 per cent to remain.

People who are pro Brexit:

Members of the UK Government and public are arguing that Britain’s participation in the EU was a restrictive element for the country. Additionally, Brexit supporters are saying that the high EU membership fees can be used to benefit the UK.

People who are anti Brexit:

The argument against Brexit is mainly all about business benefits. By being in EU, the UK can benefit by being part of the single market system (Which is an EU thing). Additionally, anti-Brexiters believe that immigrants help develop a vibrant job market.

And then what happened…

David Cameron recognised that the majority wanted to leave the EU. He stepped down as Prime Minister because Britain needs “fresh leadership” to take the country in a new direction.

Theresa May was then appointed Prime Minister. She is obviously pro-Brexit (although she keeps saying that she’s giving the British public what they want).

What did Theresa May do?

May triggered Article 50, the divorce notice from the European Union, in March 2017, setting the exit date of March 29, 2019 for Britain to leave — with or without a proper deal in place. (Her ideal scenario is to exit with a deal)

Okay what exactly is the “Deal”

Think of it as the separation agreement between the UK and the EU. It’s 585 pages long, it covers three main areas:

• Britain’s financial settlement with the EU

• The post-Brexit rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens on the continent.

• A mechanism to prevent a “hard border” on the island of Ireland.

The agreement also includes a seven-page political declaration outlining the two sides’ ambitions for their desired future trading relationship, on which negotiations have yet formally to start.

On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, her Brexit deal was rejected in the biggest Parliamentary defeat for a British government in 95 years after her last minute pleas for support, which obviously did not work.

What next for Brexit?

Four main scenarios could happen

a. Brexit happens with a ‘Deal’

That is the best case scenario for Theresa May, the British government and EU leaders. But the British parliament refuses to accept. So it may not happen by March 29, 2019.

b. Brexit happens without a ‘Deal’

That is the worst case scenario (a.k.a Doomsday) this threatens to trigger a recession in Britain and markedly slow the European Union’s economic growth.

c. Second referendum (another vote)

EU supporters have been calling for another vote ever since the first one backed Leave by a 52-48 margin in June 2016. Technically they can do it, but would it still be a ‘democratic’ thing to do.

d. Parliament votes on options

Another possibility that has come to the fore in recent days is for several non-binding votes to be held in parliament on different Brexit options to effectively determine the government’s strategy.

With inputs from agencies (Bloomberg, AFP, Guardian)