B1 Intermediate UK 301 Folder Collection
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What do we want?
When do we want it?
You've been hearing about it for almost three years and it's still going. Wasn't there a vote? Why do people get so
worked up about it? Where does it stand? And what comes next?
I'm suffering from post-Brexit Traumatic Stress Disorder.
We'll answer all those questions so you can talk with a Brit about it at the pub.
But to really get a sense of what's going on and the gravity along with it, we need to go back to World War II.
After the destruction of a continent and a lost generation for millions and millions, The European Union started as
a way to create more economic cooperation. The hope
Predecessor agreements cemented easier trade and industrial production between Western European
countries and it expanded over the decades to include more industries regulations and countries.
The United Kingdom joined in the first enlargement in 1973.
Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.
Whether it is error, may we bring truth.
The bad blood started when conservative British prime minister Margaret Thatcher demanded a rebate.
She was a supporter of a unified Europe. But she claimed that the UK was contributing too much to the EU budget.
We are not asking for a penny piece of community money for Britain.
What we are asking is for a very large amount of our own money back.
Sound familiar.
We. Want. Our. Country back!
But we'll get to that later.
After the Soviet Union fell, the EU was officially formed by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.
That's where the member states decided to form a common currency to lubricate the gears of commerce even further.
The euro was introduced to circulation in 1999 and is now used by 19 countries in the EU.
But the UK decide to keep its Pound Sterling.
But it's not just about the currency. The EU provides citizenship to its members where people
are allowed to move freely between countries with no fees on trade or capital. And a number of countries
involved greatly, expanded in the 2000s ballooning to 28 nations by 2007.
Then, the financial crisis hit and the seeds of nationalism began sprouting across Europe, from a weak economy and anti-immigrant sentiments.
Immigration into the UK from other EU member states hit a peak in 2015.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron tied his re-election campaign to a referendum vote on the country's membership in the European Union.
Cameron said he would renegotiate the UK's membership terms with the European Union and then
give the people a vote on whether to stay in the EU under those terms or to get out.
And this is when things started getting heated. Members of the UKIP party, United Kingdom Independence Party,
started gaining prominence as they hit the campaign trail for a vote they'd been pushing for decades.
The numbers used to argue for Brexit were exaggerated and we now know
that Russians tried to influence the vote through social media.
Those on the pro-Brexit side said that Britain was paying 350 million pounds a week. That took no account of the rebate.
It also didn't take account of the fact that money was flowing back from Brussels. So to that extent it was
a false figure being portrayed to the British people. But it's one of those figures that in a campaign sticks and
remained in the public consciousness.
But when the votes were tallied, Brexit won. The people who voted to leave the
EU, were generally older and living in more rural areas. It was the people left behind by the new European order.
You know what I came here 17 years ago and I said that I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the
European Union, you all laughed at me. Well I have to say you're not laughing now, are you?
So that's it right. The UK is out. Well it's not so simple. The devil's in the details.
And what was voted on included no details. The work was only just beginning.
A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new prime minister. David Cameron, who
spurred the referendum but ultimately argued against Brexit, resigned.
Leaving the job of figuring out exactly how to leave the EU to Theresa May.
I have just been to Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to form a new government. And I accepted.
The UK and the EU need to figure out exactly how they were split apart.
The integration between the UK economy and the European Union economy is in many levels.
In the automobile industry for example, the car that is eventually produced by a book, the British motor manufacturer,
has components that will cross the border multiple times in the process of manufacturing. British financial
services depends very heavily on demand from other European countries.
It's a gradual process where we don't quite know what happens next.
About 12% of the demand for UK goods and services comes from EU countries and that translates into about
3.3 million jobs, according to Begg's analysis at the London School of Economics.
On March 29 2017, May officially triggered Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon setting the timetable of Britain's departure.
The two year clock started ticking formally.
And that's where the negotiations start.
The core of the new governing agreement between the UK and the EU comes down to trade.
If they don't come to terms, trade relations between the two entities will revert back to World Trade Organization rules,
which could lead to an economic hit to both sides with more tariffs. That's where people are talking about when you hear a hard Brexit.
But there are other sticking points too. How much will the UK have to pay the EU to leave?
What types of rights will EU citizens have in the UK? And will they continue to be able to work there?
What's also uncertain is some of the entitlements which someone like me has when I go to France.
I have an automatic right to health care on the on the French system.
We're not sure whether that will continue in the future.
And there's a big question mark around the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK,
and the Republic of Ireland which will stay in the EU.
Neither side really wants a hard border with customs checkpoints but the local party that supports
Theresa May doesn't want Northern Ireland to have a special relationship with the European Union.
Having a hard border in Northern Ireland, that was seen as being incompatible with the peace process that has
been going on there since the mid 1990s, with what's known as the Belfast Agreement.
In November, Theresa May on the EU announced they had finally reached a withdrawal agreement, or a Brexit deal.
But there are plenty of people in the UK that are not happy with it. That could be a problem for the prime minister
as the UK parliament needs to vote on the deal.
And that's a big question.
May's critics inside the Conservative Party particularly on the pro Brexit Wing said she conceded too much.
Theresa May did the arithmetic and said there is no way I'm going to get the vote through.
So I'm going to postpone the vote until January.
But the clock is ticking.
If there's no deal unless, it's postponed or there's another referendum, the country will be out of the EU at the end of March 2019.
The probability is that Parliament will reject her withdrawal bill and if that happens we are in very much unknown territory.
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Can Brexit Be Reversed? And Other Questions About The UK's Big Gamble

301 Folder Collection
April Lu published on January 17, 2019
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