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Find out the pros and cons of being in the EU and the impact of the Brexit referendum. Should Britain finally leave the UK? Is a second Brexit referendum needed to approve the conditions of UK departure? Here you have the chance to vote and debate it.
Should Britain leave the EU?
The resignation of some high profile members of the government, including Boris Johnson and David Davies over the Chequers agreement, has put Theresa May in a very difficult situation. She is navigating between those who desire a hard Brexit and those who want a second Brexit referendum and remain in the EU. The negotiations to break up from the EU seem also to have stagnated, as the "cherry picking" approach that Theresa May and some members of the cabinet defend may not be acceptable for the EU negotiating team. Despite having triggered article 50 and pledged that the UK will abandon the EU, the future scenario after the divorce seems more uncertain than ever. Was it really the right decision?
History of Brexit
"Brexit" is an abbreviation for British exit from the EU. David Cameron's Conservative government announced that a Brexit referendum would take place before the end of 2017. After the 2015 General elections he certified his intention of holding this public consultation which will be held on Thursday 23 June 2016. The referendum was won by the "Leave" camp by a close margin (51.9% vs 48.1% Remain). The UK has then initiated the negotiations for the formal exit of the European Union. However, millions of British and European citizens are afraid of the negative consequences that this could have for their personal interest and the global economy.
The wording for this public consultation proposed by the Electoral Commission and accepted by the Parliament was:
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
There were only two choices: "Remain a member of the European Union" and "Leave the European Union". The referendum did not specify much about how the exit of the EU would be conducted or the potential scenarios ahead. Would this mean the exit of the European Economic Area? Would British student still participate in Erasmus programme? What collaboration treaties would be implemented with the EU and third parties?
List of Eurosceptic and pro-EU political parties and leading figures
Before the referendum David Cameron negotiated a new EU deal for the UK and then used this new deal to campaign in favor of staying in the EU, without much success. Many political figures, even within its cabinet, supported "leave" camp.
The formal group campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU was called "Britain Stronger in Europe", and there were three groups campaigning to leave: "Grassroots Out", "Leave.EU" and "Vote Leave". Some ot the most prominent political figures in the UK campaigned for and against EU membership.
Pro EU Parties
- Alliance Party
- Green Party
- Labour Party
- Liberal Democrats
- Plaid Cymru
- Scottish National Party (SPN)
- Sinn Féin
- Social Democratic and Labour Party
Anti EU parties
- Democratic Unionist Party
- Traditional Unionist Voice
- UK Independence Party
No official position
- Conservative Party
- Ulster Unionist Party
Supporters of anti-EU campign (leave EU)
- Boris Johnson (Mayor of London)
- Nigel Farage (leader of the UKIP party)
- Peter Bone (Conservative MP)
- Tom Pursglove (Conservative MP)
- Kate Hoey (Labour MP)
- George Galloway (former Respect Party MP)
- Lord Tebbit (former Chairman of the Consevative Party)
- Peter Cruddas (former Conservative treasurer)
Supporters of pro-EU campaign (remain in the EU)
- David Cameron (Conservative PM)
- Danny Alexander (former Lib-Dem MP)
- Peter Mandelson (former Labour MP)
- Phil Wilson (Labour MP)
- Janet Beer (Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool)
- Sir Brendan Paul Barber (former general secretary of the UK Trades Union Congress)
- Lord Rose (executive chairman of Marks & Spencer)
- Karren Brady (CBE, sporting executive and politician)
Brexit pros and cons
Here is a list of the main arguments wielded by the political leaders campaigning in favor of and against EU membership.
Benefits of UK EU exit:
- Pro-Brexit leaders argued that the UK should follow the steps of Norway, which have access to the single market but is not forced to follow many of the EU policies in terms of home affairs, agriculture and justice which sometimes clash with British interests.
- The UK could act as a safe haven for investors detached from the risks and uncertainties that surround the EU.
- A UK outside the EU would have the capacity to better control its immigration and protect the jobs of the British people.
- Eurosceptics claim that the regulatory burden imposed by the EU is damaging for small and medium size UK companies, the majority of which do not significantly trade with the EU.
- The UK does not have a great capacity to influence decisions in the EU. Germany has become the major actor. If the UK exits the EU, British people will regain the capacity to decide their own futures.
- The UK would have the capacity to forge new international alliances and reinforce the ties with the USA.
Negative consequences of a Brexit scenario:
- EU membership offers great trade advantages to the UK boosing British companies exports. The income from these trade relationships outweighs the fees Britain pays for being an EU member state. A treaty of free trade agreement with the EU is not guaranteed if the UK decides to leave.
- UK could lose its status of world leading financial center. Even the vote for membership this year is already upseting many investors due to the uncertain future of the UK.
- The departure of the UK would foster eurosceptic movements across the EU and probably make other countries follow the steps of Britain. This ripple effect could cause the collapse of the EU and have negative consequences for the world's economy.
- A Brexit would probably trigger a new Scottish independence referendum and a potential break up of the Union.
- Many British citizens would find more problematic to work or simply live in other European countries. Currently hundreds of thousands of UK citizens leave in Europe. For instance there is about 1 million British citizens in Spain alone.
- Some warn that millions of jobs could be lost if global manufacturers transfer production to EU countries after a Brexit.
- The UK could lose most of its political influence at a global scale if acting independently from the EU. Even for the USA, a UK outside of Europe would become a less attractive ally.
Which of the pros and cons of being in the EU you find more compelling?
A Second Brexit referendum?
As the Economist claims "a second referendum is back in play." The irregularities over found in the Vote Leave campaign as well as the uncertainty and disagreements in the type of Brexit, makes this scenario increasingly possible. Many claim that a second referendum is needed to validate the conditions for EU exit. There is much at stake and the narrow margin of victory shows that almost half of the Brits (including the majority of Londoneers, Scottish and Northern Irish) oppose to this drastic political change. The online petition for the second EU referendum gathered more than one million signatures in less than 24 hours. On 22 of June 2018, two years after the referendum, thousands of people marched in the streets of London to request British permanence in the EU,
This issue of Brexit is of vital for several reasons such as:
- Possibility of a global economic "shock"
- Impact on UK-EU relations
- Power and influence of Britain in the world
- Trade and economic growth
- Domestic politics
On an international level, even if the United Kingdom does not participate in the Euro or the Shengen agreement, leaving the European Union could have great consequences for the country, and may isolate it.
Many argue that one of the negative consequences of Brexit would be the break up of the Union. This is due to the strong pro-european stance of the SNP and the majority of the population in Scotland (62% voted to remain in the EU). Nicola Sturgeon, the Prime Minister of Scotland has already anounced that the celebration of a new Scotish independence is "highly likely" given the results of the Brexit vote. Republican leaders in Northern Ireland are requesting similar referendums. .
And you, would you vote for the UK to leave or remain in the EU in case there is a second referendum? Was the campaign for the first referendum fair? Was the referendum a good expression of direct democracy or more of an example of how populism and polarization harm democracy? Will Cameron be considered the worst prime minister in British history?
The withdrawal from the EU would have significant consequences for the future of the UK and EU member states. What do you think?
If you change your mind, you can change your vote simply by clicking on another option.
Should Britain leave the EU? Should there be a second Brexit referendum?
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