Informally known as ‘Brexit,’ the U.K. vote to leave pan-continental conglomerate has ups and downs
Brexit, a shorthand term for the British exit from the European Union, could be a defining moment in both Britain and Europe’s history. On June 23, 2016, Brits across the United Kingdom will head to the polls to vote for the U.K. to either leave the EU or continue on course as part of the union.
This referendum is an important issue because, if Britain chooses to remain within the European Union, it will continue to cede some of its sovereignty to the bureaucrats running the show in Brussels. If Britain decides to leave the EU, several other member states will likely look at whether or not they still wish to belong to the “Pan-European” state-like entity. Yes or no, stay or leave, the Brexit referendum in June will be history in the making.
Both the decision to leave the EU or to remain will cost Britain, each in very different ways. If the U.K. chooses to stay, it will pay what it has previously paid. As stated by the fact-checking charity fullfact.org, the U.K. pays in roughly £250 million a week for its EU benefits. Euro skeptics argue that the number is closer to £350 million a week but is brought down substantially by the rebate the government gets from the EU. This is subtracted from the total needed to give, so it never leaves the coffers of the United Kingdom. In addition to the rebates, the subsidies that Brussels sends to Britain also decrease the total amount paid into the European Union.
By not paying or participating in the EU, the U.K. loses its access to the open European market, a market that makes up roughly 12.6 percent of Britain’s GDP, while for the EU, Britain only accounts for 3.1 percent of its GDP. Without easy access to one another via the EU’s free trade, both the U.K. and the EU stand to lose substantial economic prowess among other non-economic initiatives, like the simple stable vision of Britain remaining as part of the EU.
Although the costs associated with a Brexit would be high, Euro-skeptics argue that the sovereignty gained would be well worth the potential economic and travel losses.
Historically, the U.K. has had complete control over both her internal and external affairs; under the EU, there are many requirements that Brussels imposes on member states that limit the sovereignty of said states. While the EU’s wide regulation of industry and trade may streamline the ability of member states to trade with one another, it also takes away from their ability to govern themselves.
This is what the Brexit vote will come down to for many Britons: acceptance of the rule of Brussels and enjoyment of free trade with mainland Europe or the benefit of complete British sovereignty without the influence of the bureaucrats from Brussels and other European states. President Obama stated on Friday, April 22 that it could take up to a decade for the U.K. to strike its own trade deal with the United States.
He said, “Maybe some point down the line there might be a U.K./U.S. trade agreement but it’s not going to happen anytime soon because our focus is negotiating with the big bloc, the European Union…”
On Monday, April 25 President Obama spoke in Germany where he backed the European Union, stating that its unity was worth the challenge.
He said, “I’ve come here today to the heart of Europe to say that the United States, and the entire world needs a strong and prosperous and democratic and united Europe.”
According to YouGov, a market research firm, President Obama has an approval rating of 72 percent in Britain.
The June 23 referendum will give the United Kingdom the chance for the current generation of voters to choose if they wish to align themselves with Europe. By voting to leave, ties with continental Europe will be frayed and will take time to mend.
By voting to stay, the U.K. will be committing itself to the European Union at a time when the outlook for large parts of the continent are quite grim, as a number of EU economies are stagnating or are in large debt. Stay or leave, the Brexit vote has forced many other nations to also rethink what it means to be European at a very trying time for Europe as a whole.