On June 24, 2016, the people of the United Kingdom made a decision that reshaped their country’s place in the world. In a stunning vote of 52 percent to 48 percent, they voted to leave the European Union. Around the globe, people reacted with shock as news of this historic decision, known as ‘Brexit’, filled newspapers, magazines, and television channels.
But what does all this mean? What are the implications of Brexit?
Those who support Brexit argue that there are numerous advantages to Britain’s exit from the European Union. The country’s departure from the EU will result in Britain no longer having to pay the European Union’s membership fee. Throughout its time in the Union, Britain paid around 13 billion Euros to the EU budget, while EU spending on the UK was only around 4.5 billion Euros.
Another advantage of Britain leaving the EU is that the country now has the freedom to establish its own trade agreements. They will also possess a greater amount of freedom in world affairs.
Under the laws of the EU, people from other member states have the right to migrate between EU countries. As a result, Britain received a large amount of immigrants. Pro-Brexit campaigners argue that by leaving the EU, the country will be able to regain control of its borders and grow more secure and less vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Although the country will not necessarily reduce immigration, the British Government will be able to set their own immigration rules.
So why do many people oppose Brexit?
There are several financial advantages that come with being a part of the European Union. For example, the EU is a single market in which no tariffs are imposed on member states for exports or imports. The EU’s citizens also have the freedom to live and work anywhere in the EU. Furthermore, the benefits of free trade and inward investment may outweigh membership costs for many of the EU’s member countries. Because of Brexit, the United Kingdom will no longer reap these benefits. As for security, UK Defense Secretary Fallon states that the country benefited from being a part of the EU. “It is through the EU that you exchange criminal records and passenger records and work together on counter-terrorism,” he said.
So is it a done deal?
Well, the referendum is technically not legally binding. In fact, Brexit is not official until after the British government invokes Article 50, a provision of the EU’s governing treaty. After the Brexit referendum’s final results were published, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would resign in October and leave legal action on Brexit to his successor.
It will likely be several years before scholars can assess Brexit’s real impact, as people and organizations will find mechanisms to adjust to the new environment.