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CWA # 53, 14 August 2018

United Kingdom
Does Brexit mean Brexit?

  Siddhatti Mehta

Since the infamous separation of Britain from EU has taken a front seat for the top diplomats and the Prime Minister herself: the question remains, will it be a soft Brexit? Will there be a hard stand on Brexit? Or will there be another referendum?

Siddhatti Mehta is a post graduate scholar at the School of Liberal Studies, PDPU, Gandhinagar

On June 23, 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union. And since then the road towards Brexit has been one of the major challenges for the UK as well as the European Union.

Since the infamous separation of Britain from EU has taken a front seat for the top diplomats and the Prime Minister herself: the question remains, will it be a soft Brexit? Will there be a hard stand on Brexit? Or will there be another referendum?

 

Possibility of a Soft or a Hard Brexit

Theresa May stepped in as the Prime Minister of Britain and made her stand for a hard Brexit very clear. The want of breaking off from the EU completely may not be materialized due to the obvious roadblocks for the UK and between the UK and the EU. And this break is envisaged as a spectrum with two possible outcomes: a soft Brexit or a hard Brexit.

A soft Brexit would mean that UK will have a similar membership of the European Economic area to that of Norway, which would let the country still access the single market and still deal without the rest of EU.  One of the other major things is that the UK will still be able to be within the EU customs union where the exports will not be subject to border checks or tariffs.

UK making payments into EU budgets and accepting the four movements of goods, services, capital and people along with free access of European nationals to works and settle in the country would continue as always.

On the other hand, a hard Brexit would mean cutting off ties with the European Union completely along with giving up access to the single market.  It will also not be subject to the European Court of Justice. A hard Brexit will allow Britain to have complete control over its border along with free movement and immigration, one of the gravest problems.

 

A second Referendum?

Since UK voted to leave the European Union, many have been lobbying for a second referendum. Some of the most complicated issues have still not been solved leading to a continued process of negotiations. The first time around when people came out to vote, they did not know what a Brexit would mean and how it will affect future engagements. The questions they should have been more about whether to remain in a single market and the customs union? Or do you value free movement and integrated financial systems?

Now after two years of endless negotiations, deals and discussions over the Irish border, single market, and customs Union and also about the rights of people living across the bloc, the decision still remains to be done.

Contemplating on all the developments and political changes, the remainers and the ones willing to leave the EU have now understood the tedious process and its repercussions. Many promises made by the MP’s and the front runners of Brexit have not been idealized. And all this has prompted a second referendum, going back to the people for the one last time to decide the future of Brexit.

 

Impact and the future of Brexit

Brexit has already impacted the economy of Britain since its vote out and it will further have drastic implications once the decision is made in 2019 after Article 50 is invoked.

If a hard Brexit unfolds, it would mean that the UK will leave the advantages of EU membership and use WTO’s trade rules and laws which would cost UK businesses billions of pounds. Which would ultimately lower the GDP of the country in the long run and trade will be lost.

And since it will have trade agreements with around the world it will lose immensely from the EU which has more free trade agreements around the world than any other single country or bloc. The UK will also lose investments from international companies since they would prefer to engage with one that has access to the EU.

Pro-exit campaigners believe that leaving the EU and negotiating trade deals with the rest of the world could make up for the lost trade with the EU. So far mild impacts have been felt in terms of weakening of the British pound against major currencies and slowed economic growth.

Compared to a hard Brexit, the impact of the soft Brexit is much less which has already been felt over the period of two years.

As the Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said that “Brexit means Brexit” and that they intend to leave the European Union only to move ahead but not to rejoin the bloc again through a back door.

Brexit seems like a good option for a majority of the people but what they seem to forget are the obvious and immediate problems that will crop up and may not even be solved ever. The Irish border issue, the fear of the Hungarians over the protection of their rights and continued trade deals with the UK along with the other crises looming over the exit all has immediate concerns. What the current government is determined to do is something which was built over decades as a strong part of the bloc and as a country with integrated unions and deals. Pulling out of the union will have drastic implications for the UK as a country. The slower economic growth will hamper the economy and its position as a strong entity.

Another referendum as well will prove the final vote about the future of the Brexit deal and that the citizens are also included to make a decision for the last time.

In the long run, Brexit might prove a right move towards increased trade deals with the rest of the world other than the EU. Having full control over the internal laws and immigration could prove advantageous in competitiveness as well.

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