Britain Says “See You!” to the EU

Britain+Says+%22See+You%21%22+to+the+EU

Rebecca Hartwick, News Writer

     The British are coming! The British are coming! The British are… leaving? Yup, you heard it. The UK is finally leaving the EU and the recent election has really reflected how eager Brits are to say “Cheerio!” to the European Union.

     Brexit is the nickname for the British exit, or the UK leaving the European Union. In June 2016, the UK held a referendum on whether to remain within the EU, a vote that resulted in 52% voting to leave, 48% to stay.

     The UK will be the first country to ever leave the EU in its long history. The European Union is an economic and political union in Europe that allows for free trade and free movement for any citizens in any of its 28 member states. The EU has been around for nearly 70 years, since the early 1950s. The UK joined in 1973 and, after 3 and a half years of extended deadlines and bureaucracy, left on the 31st of January, 2020.

     However, “Brexit” is still an ongoing process. Currently, both sides are working on what the future relations between them will look like, like trade, security measures/law enforcement, medication licensing, electricity/gas supplies, and air travel specifics. The UK has a lot to hash out with the EU on what will officially happen after they leave; this negotiation process will take about 11 months, lasting until next December.

     The reason the UK was finally able to push through a Brexit plan and leave? Their recent election. On December 12, 2019, voters headed to the polls to cast their ballots and voted the Conservative Party into office in a landslide victory for the party, according to the NY Times. They won 368 seats in the House of Commons (similar to the House of Representatives in America), which gives them their biggest majority since 1987. Even early on in the vote it quickly became clear that with 45% of the vote, they were headed for triumph.

     The leader of the Conservative party, and Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said this election and the large Conservative majority would give him the mandate necessary to finalize and get the UK out of the EU next month, which he clearly delivered on.

     Johnson’s proposal on leaving the European Union was very similar to the one that the prime minister before him, Theresa May, proposed years prior. In fact, the only substantial difference is the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the former’s economic state. While the Republic of Ireland wants to maintain a free, “unobstructed” border between the two, the UK wants to further separate themselves from the EU and wants to put up some sort of border. Having a border and not having a border each present individual difficulties that regardless of the final decision will require some sort of compromise/navigation around. There are many opinions and controversy surrounding this event. “I think the UK will be fine because they have always been powerful and thriving. The rest of the countries in the EU will learn how to cope without the UK there, but they will all be okay,” says Katie Lee ‘23. Caroline Vanderloo ‘22, and Hannah Blackwell ‘20 both viewed Brexit from a different perspective. Caroline described it as “very indicative of our current international political issues,” and Hannah sees it as a “major historical moment that will impact generations to come.”

     In any case, this news is monumental; a major global event that has been in the works for what has felt like forever has finally occurred. The UK has left the EU, -even though there is still much to work out, the UK has left the EU… finally.