While the British Parliament has said it will not accept the current Brexit agreement with EU, the European Commission has stated that it is not ready for a renewed deal on Britain’s departure from Europe. It has been more than three years since the EU exit referendum was held in the UK, but the country has still not been able to leave the EU with or without a deal; instead, the two Prime Ministers (David Cameron and Theresa May) lost their seats in this big gamble.
Boris Johnson has promised that he will, under all circumstances, try to pull Britain out of the EU by October 31, 2019, and has therefore not allowed those opposed to a hard or no-deal exit from EU enter his cabinet.
What Is Brexit and How Did It Happen?
Brexit is a portmanteau of “British” and Exit.” The Brexit process is the departure of Britain, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from a union that sets out the commercial, political and judicial rules of the member states.
Britain is the first country in the EU to seek an exit, so the departure process has a number of complexities and multiple components. Former Prime Minister and former Conservative Party Leader David Cameron had promised the nation will hold a referendum on separation from the EU ahead of the 2015 general elections. Proponents of the Brexit have put forward a number of reasons for this move, including the return of full jurisdiction to British courts, control of borders and preventing free movement of European immigrants, especially from poor EU states, the suspension of annual membership fees and the authority to close contracts on free trade with other countries.
With this promise, Brexit was set for a referendum on June 23, 2016, with a total of 51.9% of British voters demanding an exit and 48.1% voting for the UK to stay in EU. More than thirty million people participated in the referendum, which meant a turnout of 71.8%. As a result, David Cameron, who was a member of the Remain Campaign, resigned and Theresa May, the then secretary of state was elected leader of the ruling party and became the British Prime Minister. A few months after the referendum negotiations began with the implementation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets out the rules for the departure of an EU member.
When Will Brexit Be Put into Effect?
According to the agreement, Britain had to exit the European Union on March 29, 2019, but this date has been postponed twice. The European Union finally extended the UK deadline of April 10, 2019, to October 31. If the UK exit deal is reached before the deadline, London could withdraw from the EU before that date.
What Has Been the Process of Brexit to Date?
The differences within Britain and between London and Brussels over the terms of the Brexit were so great that it could easily be said that the Brexit negotiations have been fruitless so far and the former British prime minister had repeatedly stated that the UK is likely to exit EU without a deal. Theresa May even had spoken of a deadlock in the negotiations.
Among the internal disputes are protests by Scotland and Northern Ireland over the London-Brussels negotiation process and the two countries’ lack of authority to negotiate with Brussels. London insists the UK is negotiating with Brussels with integration, but since Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU separately, Scotland and Northern Ireland’s First Ministers have repeatedly threatened London that they may hold a referendum for independence from the UK. Various political factions within Britain also voted against Brexit for various reasons. The Labor Party, the main opposition party, as well as the supporters of Remain Campaign, believe that an exit based on this agreement is harmful to the British economy.
At the same time, Britain intends to leave the European Union in order to have a new business relationship with countries outside the EU. Staying in the customs union means adhering to EU rules and not being able to trade with other countries with the British prime minister calling it “mocking the referendum”. Brussels and London agree that on the Northern Ireland border with the Republic of Ireland there is need of cooperation and have put forward a plan called the “Backstop” protocol on the Northern Irish border with the European Union, but the same policy has been a key obstacle to an agreement between the two sides. Theresa May during her term as the prime minister sought safeguards from the EU for the so-called ‘Backstop’ arrangements regarding Northern Ireland borders. Backstop arrangement is a kind of safeguard policy that avoids creating a hard border between Ireland that is part of the UK and the part that is a member of the European Union. This is a major obstacle in the way of parliamentary support. This has led the Parliament to reject the British government’s agreement with the European Union three times. If Britain leaves the European Union without a deal it will face severe economic and political shocks.
What Is Hard & Soft Brexit & What Are Their Implications?
Hard Brexit means full severance of relations between Britain and the EU without reaching an agreement. The body responsible for monitoring the budget spending in the UK says if the country exits the EU without a deal, it will suffer a recession and incur losses of £30 bn. Another consequence of a no-deal exit would be a shrinking of 8% to 9% of the economy in a year which would, in turn, slow the economic growth of the European Union and countries that have extensive trade with Britain. Another important consequence is the departure of a large number of financial and banking companies and their employees from London; in fact, they will be relocated to the Eurozone and continue to operate within the framework of the EU rules. Soft Brexit, on the other hand, means maintaining some of the links between Britain and the European Union in the post-Brexit period.
Where Would Brexit Lead under Boris Johnson?
Boris Johnson, who holds the posts of London mayor and British foreign secretary in his political career, was elected as the 77th prime minister as the Brexit dilemma still continues. Johnson announced from the start of his campaign that Britain would exit the EU by the end of October with or without a deal! This has led politicians opposed to hard Brexit to distance from him and ministers opposed to a no-deal Brexit have resigned.
With the current conditions prevailing in England, the new prime minister seems to be on a difficult and complex path. Although he has said London has no interest in hard Brexit but he has also said that they should be prepared for that possibility. In contrast, a spokesman for the European Commission has said it wants to work with Boris Johnson, but the restrictions are clear. He stressed that the EC was ready to work with Johnson to come up with a regular draft agenda, but it could not agree to another deal. The European Union has made it clear several times that it will not renegotiate the deal. Brussels in particular stresses that Britain should abide by its financial obligations to the Union if it leaves with no deal. EU chief negotiator on Brexit Michel Barnier has said in a letter to representatives of 27 European countries after Johnson’s victory that he is prepared to exit EU without a deal. He wrote in his letter that Johnson had said if an agreement was to be reached between the UK and the European Union, Ireland’s special security network would have to be removed, and “we all know that is unacceptable.”
Given the sharp tone of the letter, UK should be prepared for a no-deal exit from EU as this is apparently Johnson’s priority. At the same time, opposition to the House of Commons proposals will inevitably lead Johnson to solutions based on no-deal departure: a path which would impose huge costs on the British economy and could lead to financial and human capital outflows. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in addition to tackling other challenges, including the Brexit dilemma, is also facing the oil tanker crisis on international waterways: Challenges that show the British Prime Minister has a difficult way to break away from the Union to the extent that he may become the third victim of Brexit.
Although Brexit can be considered the biggest foreign policy challenge of Britain after World War II, it will also have implications for the European Union. Brexit, on the one hand, can reduce the weight of the European Union in global equations and on the other hand, it may bring Britain closer to the US in diplomacy and international disputes.
The split could slow the economic growth of the United Kingdom and the European Union, the largest economic bloc in the world. Such an event can affect the world economy and even oil prices in the short and long terms.