Brexit in a nutshell
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The following is an extremely over simplified overview. Brexit polls have proven time and time again that a large number of people of all ages don’t understand the basics behind the system. Al-Sahawat Times has therefore developed an over simplified overview to help you get to grasps with the ideas behind the jargon.
The European Union was created (in one form or another) after the Second World War to stop further wars in Europe.
Europe may be divided by politics, language, religion and culture but war could not be allowed to ravage the word again.
Economy and Human Rights became the founding principles to share across the EU.
Over the next half century this developed into closer and stronger ties. When the Euro currency was adopted at the turn of the century many get that the EU was attempting to replicate the USA, something not entirely possible with such a diverse and often opposing spectrum of populations.
Freedoms of movement, minimum Human Rights and shared economic standards became the pillars of European cooperation.
Talks are gathering ring pace to form a single united European military force.
The EU was so successful at stopping autrocities such as seen during WWII that the region has not has an armed conflict on the mainland since.
Neighbouring regions, The Balkans, Middle-East and North Africa have all been ravaged by war during this time with the Balkan wars 1991-2001 resulting in the worst genocide since Nazi Germany during the early 1940s. The Middle-East has seen millions killed and displaced since 2001.
During this his time the EU has remained calm gradually expanding as former Soviet nations, former Balkan nations and other join the block to enjoy the peace and stability it brings.
Far right groups however have opposed the EU and insisted that each country remain entirely separate and chose whether or not to grant Human Rights, freedoms of movement and economic standards to their citizens.
Whilst nations from France, Netherlands, Italy, Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia have expressed various levels of far right decent against the EU. No country has had a stronger opposition to unification with Europe than the UK.
So what are the UK’s options:
- Deal – The UK continue to be bound by EU laws and regulations over immigration, economic, environmental and judicial matters retaining access to the single market and free trade zones. But loose all of their voting rights and access to shared intelligence and fiscal information. Meaning the UK will no longer have any say whatsoever over the laws that govern it.
- No Deal – Aka, Hard Brexit. The UK looses all ties to the EU. The UK plunges into an instant economic recession with a hard boarder with Ireland. This would likely see the break up of the UK and permanent financial ruin, at least permanent in terms of a single human life time.
- Down Vote – Parliament down vote Theresa May’s deal and trigger a second referendum, undoing Brexit.
The Ireland issue:
The UK and Ireland fought a bitter and bloody war from the 1920s until the Good Friday Agreement peace treaty in 1998. The peace treaty meant that UK occupied Northern Ireland and Ireland would not have any restrictions on movement of people or goods and would have no tariffs on trade between the two zones. However a hard Brexit would risk breaching the peace treaty and forming a hard international border between the two zones. This would inevitably escalate tensions and possibly reignite the frozen war. A war with an EU nation and non-EU UK would be disastrous with the UK paying a severe price.
Northern Irish party DUP are in a coalition government with Theresa May’s Conservative party. Without the DUP Theresa May does not have enough votes to pass any laws on her own. The DUP have already made perfectly clear they they strongly oppose Brexit and will not agree to any deal. This means that if the UK wants a hard Brexit they would have to hand Northern Ireland back to Ireland to honour the 1998 peace treaty.. something that is extremely unlikely.
Could a down vote mean Brexit is off and we remain in the EU? Well, possibly, but probably not.
Northern England voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU with London and Northern Ireland voting to remain.
According to recent polls 60% of Brits now support remain. Yet Northern England still support leave. This means that nay new referendum is not a guaranteed win for retainers. Some polls put the vote at just 54% remain. Which in 2016 when 52% voted leave was the same pre-vote poll rate. Showing that the British public say one thing and vote for another.
In 2018 a poll of 16-25 year olds showed that over 50% did not know why the EU existed and had not been taught how the EU had stopped war and economic ruin. The same poll of over 60s showed the figure even higher. Many Brits are simply confused as to the function of the EU and what it does.
The British consensus seems to be that the EU is trying to be one nation ruled by Germany and France and that they want “independence”. This of course is far from the truth.
The EU works in a similar way to the USA’s federal system, with a little more equality. Residents of each country vote for their leader who then represent them at EU council meetings. European leadership is rotated equally between the current leaders of the individual nations, everyone gets their turn and everyone gets an equal turn. This is often miss understood as a non elected leader. This is not true.
Individual nations can be exempt from a small number of EU regulations for valid reasons also.
The EU serves to protect Europe from the horrors of WWI and WWII from occurring again.
With the Conservatives looking unlikely to secure a deal being passed in parliament then where does this leave Parliament and what happens next? With Germany, France and Ireland all stating that there do not wish to renegotiate if a down vote a nail in the coffin that can only lead to a hard Brexit? Well not exactly:
Theresa May has stated that if she is ousted in a vote of no confidence or general election she does not think that Brexit will be changed or stopped, simply delayed. This comes after opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn stated that he would also pursue Brexit if elected, an announcement which undoubtedly cost him the votes and support of both Labour Party members and the public alike.
Today US economists predicted a catastrophic economic recession isolated to the UK should Brexit go ahead. The only way this can be avoided is with a soft Brexit, where the UK still remains bound by EU laws and regulations without a vote or say in the governance. But, what exactly is the point in that? The £ GBP continues to slide against the € and $ USD with exchange rates currently at:
Many larger companies such as APPLE have offered pricing exchanges at £1:$1 ever since the 2916 referendum leaving the UK paying 20% more for every purchase. This can be seen when comparing prices on Apple’s website, the Appstore or iTunes where the 1:1 exchange rate is used. This puts the £ GBP weaker than the €. APPLE are not the only company to do so.
Famously Gatwick Airport, just south of London offers exchange rates as low as £0.8:€1 which were the lowest exchange rates we could find in the UK in 2018. (Notably this exchange rate is offered any an independent exchange company operating inside the airport. Rates are subject to change. Correct at time of research).
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C.Simmons@alsahawat.com | Journalist