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  • What do we want?

  • BREXIT!

  • When do we want it?

  • NOW!

  • Brexit

  • 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.

What do we want?

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Can Brexit Be Reversed? And Other Questions About The UK's Big Gamble

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    April Lu posted on 2019/01/17
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