Brexit, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, finally occurred on January 31st. After a year of negotiation, delays, and failed attempts, Prime Minister Boris Johnson succeeded in his vow to leave the EU.
Britain joined the European Union in 1975, but ever since then its membership has been a divisive issue for the British. In 2016, a referendum, or public, vote set forward by Prime Minister David Cameron resulted in a majority 52% voting to leave, marking the beginning of Brexit.
Under Prime Minister Theresa May, the deadline for Brexit was set for March 29th, 2019, but it was eventually extended to April 2019 and then October 2019. After three attempts at a deal for Brexit failed, May resigned and Prime Minister Boris Johnson took office, promising that Brexit would happen by October.
However, unable to reach a deal, the deadline was once again extended to January 31st. Britain’s January election gave Johnson the conservative numbers to finally withdraw from the EU.
Though Brexit is officially in effect, the terms of departure give Britain an 11-month transition period in which it is still subject to the EU’s regulations. This transition period allows Britain to determine its future and negotiate its relationship with the EU.
One of the biggest concerns for Brexit is trade agreements. For now, Britain’s free trade relationship with the EU remains in place, but if negotiations for the next eleven months prove fruitless, trade with the rest of Europe could be hindered by tariffs or other trade obstacles. This is leading to the demise of commercial businesses throughout Britain which are dependent on the absence of tariffs on their trade. Britain will have to negotiate very quickly to reach a favorable trade deal by the end of the transition period.
Speech and debate member Lindsey Kim (12) said, “I think Britain will experience an enormous economic downturn and lose trade opportunities with the other countries in the European Union.”
Still, despite tension surrounding the issue, January 31st was a day of celebration for British citizens. After a long period of failed deals, disagreements, and delays, Britain was finally separated from the European Union.
Abby Newhart (10), a participant in the Youth & Government program, expressed, “Though it may affect the country’s economy, ultimately the will of the people is being carried out and democracy is being upheld.”
Regardless of the challenges, Britain will face in the wake of Brexit, the nation is determined to see it through. These next eleven months will be a race against time, but the direction Britain heads now will affect their future forever.