Articled by: Talha A. Mirza, JD 2021
Brexit: a messy divorce
While it seems like a long time ago, the referendum for the United Kingdom (UK) to leave the European Union (EU)—also known as Brexit—happened barely three years ago, yet the fallout today is as resonant as ever. The Brexit referendum in 2016 was already very controversial due to the very close margin of the pro-Brexit victory (51.9% to the 48.1% pro-EU votes), and since then, there has been significant political violence enacted by pro-Brexit right-wing groups. Even so, while these right-wing groups are surging with a trend of rising nationalism and xenophobia throughout Europe, it must be clarified that the foundation of the pro-Brexit campaign was so alluring due in large part because of “exaggerations and outright lies.” The most comically inflammatory claim regarding the pro-Brexit campaign was how the “UK was sending the EU £350 million a week,” to which the official who composed the ad recently admitted that the Brexit referendum was a “dumb idea,” that it’s shaping up to be a “guaranteed debacle,” and that leaving the EU could be “an error.” Regardless, while assigning blame can vindicate the pro-EU side, the damage has already been done, and the UK must adopt a forward thinking, multi-partisan approach since time is running out.
Time is ticking
The UK has until March 29th, 2019 before their membership in the EU would expire, and if the UK does not come up with some realistic and sound plan, leaving the World’s largest trading bloc would yield severe economic, social, and political ramifications. This is not to say UK Prime Minister Theresa May has not been working tirelessly to reconcile the outcome of the Brexit public referendum with the fact that her recent proposal in the House of Commons lost by a landslide of 230 votes. Under the usual rules of the UK’s constitutional democracy, if the Prime Minister calls a vote on a significant issue and loses even by one vote, let alone 230, they are usually “expected to resign or call a general election.” But given that many of May’s staunchest opponents are not even considering this option, due to the elephant in the room that is the looming EU membership expiration date, it is clear that the UK parliament is scrambling to fix the mess created by the referendum.
This Brexit is too UK, this Brexit is too EU, this Brexit is just right!
Many of those who opposed May’s proposal are scattered across the political spectrum, with some right-wing members of parliament demanding for a more extreme version of Brexit, while those on the left are asking for more moderate, pro-international trade (pro-EU) modifications. But then again, many in the UK government have proposed a second referendum, which May would not want, as the Kingdom is progressively becoming more pro-EU with every passing day of political gridlock. Over two million citizens who were previously eligible to vote due to being young are now of voting age, and according to various polls, around 87% of these new voters are pro-EU. So while you can’t please anyone, nobody really has the answer to what the UK should make of this Brexit baffle, I guess we’ll see what happens next.