Brexit in Limbo: Will the UK Actually Leave the EU?


Photo Credit: Bloomberg

British Prime Minister Theresa May continues to grapple with tough Brexit negotiations that may cost her her job.

Sofi Serio, Editor-in-Chief

In 2016, voters in the United Kingdom were asked a seemingly simple question, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

On June 23rd, a slim 51% of voters said yes to leaving the European Union. Since that day, Britain, which is comprised of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, has been scrambling to figure out a way to smoothly leave the EU.

To add on to the confusion, English and Welsh voters voted to leave the EU, while Scottish and Irish voters voted to remain. So there remains strife and unease in Scotland and Ireland, which want no part in Brexit, yet are bound to it unless they want out of the UK.

Why leave the EU? And what is the EU?

As the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) puts it, “The EU is a political and economic union of 28 countries which trade with each other and allow citizens to move easily between the countries to live and work.”

So why leave?

Many people reason that the UK’s prime motivation to exit the EU stemmed from a wave of anti-immigration hysteria and fear of open borders. The EU has a fairly large tolerance for accepting refugees, and those in the UK felt threatened by a possible influx of refugees. They felt that the EU membership was changing the British national identity into something not uniquely British.

However, the public may not have realized the full extent of what leaving the EU would do. For instance, the day after the vote, NPR reported a large spike in Britain search results asking, “What is the EU?” Misinformation and lack of information were both big players in Brexit, and continue to this day.

Leaving the EU would change the entire economy of Britain and the EU. The UK currently generates 12.5% of the total revenue for the EU. Leaving the organization would cause large financial instability both in the UK and in the EU.

Although Brexit has been in the works for more than three years, 59% of the UK population now asserts that they do not want to leave the EU.

Perhaps more unpopular than the Brexit deal is British Prime Minister Theresa May. May, who originally advocated to stay in the EU, has now been tasked with coming up with a plan to leave it.

Her second Brexit plan was met with a vote of no confidence, or a vote where members of May’s own conservative party vote against her leadership and policies. However, her party decided that while they didn’t like her plan, they wanted her to stay, so May “survived” the vote.

Now, May has come up with a third plan to leave the EU. This time, she says that if her plan passes, she will resign as prime minister.

That puts the pressure on British Parliament to agree on a Brexit decision. The EU recently gave the UK three options. Accept May’s deal, exit without a deal, or yet again postpone leaving the EU. Britain was originally scheduled to leave the EU on March 29th, but voted to postpone leaving until April 12th.

As Reuters, a business and financial website, put it, “Britain’s parliament faces its biggest decision since World War Two: whether to back Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal, a vote that will influence the country’s prosperity for generations to come.”

And really, Parliament has only one choice. The people voted to leave. Now it’s time for Parliament to figure out how.