Britain Leaving The European Union
What does it really mean for England and Europe as a whole?
By: David McDonald
The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, was a non-legally binding referendum that took place on Thursday 23 June 2016 in the UK.
During this discussion, an overall vote took place in which 51.9% of participators voted in favour of England leaving the European Union. A near split decision among voters means that the country’s leaders, as well as its citizens aren’t all on the same page on this issue.
Luckily for the opposition of this decision, the implementation of ‘Brexit’ as many are calling it will take several years to accomplish, and will give the citizens of the United Kingdom, as well as all European Union members lots of time to think about how they will deal with the change.
What is the European Union?
Before writing this article I had no idea what the European Union was. I thought it may have been something similar to the TPP or NAFTA. I was generally right with this assumption. Now if you don’t know what the TPP or NAFTA are, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to research it because it directly affects Canada and the United States. (It’s basically reduced or no tariffs on imports within Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, making trade easier).
According to Wikipedia, “The European Union (EU) is a politico-economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardized system of laws that apply in all member states. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market, and maintain common policies on trade.”
The union even goes one step further than the TPP and protects agricultural rights, as well as several other industries such as fisheries and mining operations. It is composed of nineteen member states that total over 510 million people: needless to say, it’s big.
What are the advantages of being a part of the EU?
1. Low prices of goods – there exists a ‘Single Market’ for all member countries wherein products are low-priced and there are no charges when it comes to custom tax; custom tax is usually charged when goods are transported or sold between states/countries but this is not applied among member countries
2. Citizens are free to move from one member country to another – citizens can freely travel, study, work, or live in any European country of their choice
3. More jobs are generated – more or less than 3.5 million jobs have been generated over the years
4. Development of deprived regions – some member countries of the EU are economically deprived and through the ‘European Structural Funds’, deprived regions are developed
5. Louder voice – the EU is able to ensure that all their concerns are taken seriously and heard internationally since it speaks in behalf of millions of people
6. Workers are protected – this is made possible through the European Working Time Directive; the directive includes regulations regarding holidays, working hours, breaks, etc. (Source 1)
1. It is costly to be a member of the EU – different sources claim that the cost per head ranges from £300 to £873
2. Not all policies are efficient – a good example is that of the Common Agricultural Policy which resulted to oversupply and higher prices of goods
3. The ‘single currency’ poses a great problem – not all member countries are using the Euro though the EU emphasized its use; still, many problems have risen over the years
4. Overcrowding – it was mentioned earlier that the citizens of member countries are free to move from one place to another; this has led to overcrowding in the major cities of UK and it has increased prices of houses, as well as congestion on the roads
So Why Did Great Britain Leave The European Union?
Well, just from taking one look at the advantages and disadvantages of this pact, it is clear that the European Union was structured to help underdeveloped countries become more successful. Being a part of the EU helps create more jobs, protect workers rights, and decrease the prices on goods – all things that are necessary for a generally poor country to reach greater prosperity.
Campaigners have agitated for EU withdrawal ever since the UK joined the common market in 1973, but only now have they been able to get the public’s say and take action.
So why has England only been able to leave now?
A large driving force for British voters is the migration factor. With the events taking place in the Middle East there are millions of refugees fleeing to Europe for a place to live.
The Expansion of the European Union East means there are more immigrants coming into European countries.
This hasn’t been a large issue until recently with everything going on in the Middle East, but EU citizens are starting to take notice at the hundreds of thousands of immigrants that are coming to stay, and the streets are filling up fast.
Public unease has been fuelled by a failure to prevent immigration from piling pressure on jobs markets and public services, and a refusal by politicians to acknowledge the sheer numbers of Europeans making new homes in the UK after the EU’s expansion east in 2004 and 2007.
Promises have been made to bring migration down to the tens, not hundreds, of thousands. However, failure to live up to these promises has contributed to a sense that UK politicians are powerless to lower migration from the EU.
Thus, migration was the largest driving factor forcing Britons to vote out of the EU.
Alongside this, the fact that elite politicians and leaders in Europe are generally unheard of has voters uneasy. The UK never voted to be a part of the EU, and its citizens have never actually been entirely fond of the idea. Many argue that the European Union is too remote from the people it is governing, and voting out of this agreement allows citizens to grow closer to the people governing them.
My take on Brexxit
I can understand why British citizens want to leave the European Union. Their streets are being flooded with thousands of immigrants who are taking jobs and crowding communal facilities. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a whole other issue in itself, and I do not agree with the fact that there are millions of unhoused people wandering Europe right now, but if I can totally understand why British citizens want to cut down on the number of immigrants coming from the Middle East.
Furthermore, it is a smart idea to leave a union that is governed by people you don’t even know! If I lived in Europe, I would want to know who is governing me, what their views are on certain issues, and what their plans are for the future. Citizens of the UK don’t know a lot of these things! Hell, they don’t even know the people at the top of this vast union, which is concerning when you consider how big this organization really is.
That’s like not knowing who your next presidential candidate is going to be, a little concerning, right?
Now there are several other issues as to why England plans to exit the European Union and it’s all really confusing so I’m just going to leave it at the main two:
British citizens have a problem with current immigration policies under the EU
British citizens have a problem with the lack of knowledge on elite politicians and leaders who are governing them. They want to know who their leaders are.
Britain leaving the EU won’t have major implications on their economy or tourism. They still have the same currency as the EU (Euro) and they have strong economic ties with many EU countries. Like I said, being a part of the union will really help you if you are an underdeveloped or less wealthy nation. The UK is neither of these, and leaving the EU will only help their economy and way of life in my opinion.
There are many questions that come to mind when thinking about this topic: Will more countries follow suit and leave the EU? Will England be able to survive on it’s own?
To these I say yes and hell yes.
France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Hungary could all follow Britain out of the European Union in a rash of anti-Brussels rebellions, according to a paper prepared by the German finance ministry.
Europe, along with the rest of the world is experiencing a time of vastly different political ideologies. This means that it will be harder for several nations with differing religions and ways of life in general to all work under one political spectrum.
Perhaps a Europe where every nation is self-governed isn’t too far off when you consider the above points.
Perhaps the EU will take on more of an economic role rather than a political role like that of the TPP.
Time will only tell, but for now, I’m just interested to see how the United Kingdom will deal with their departure from a 40+ year relation with the European Union.