On January 31 , 2020, the United Kingdom finally came to a close on its unprecedented decision to break a 47 year membership with the European Union in 2016. The vote was difficult for anti- and pro-Brexiteers alike, with 52% voting to leave, and 48% voting to remain in the union.
However, the decision to leave runs much deeper than ending a partnership. One of the primary issues is the “backstop”, which ensures that Ireland retains an open border regardless of the political situation. Despite these measures, dissent is still building. According to the New York Times, the Brexit deal has been dubbed “The Betrayal Act”, in Belfast, Ireland, as it is seen as a blatant disruption to the “Good Friday” peace agreements reached between them. Others feel that this will not become an issue, as measures have been put into place to ensure the continuity between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Another complication concerning the deal is the free-trade agreement. The UK has been granted a “transition period”, which allows for open borders until December 31 , 2020. The UK has the option to extend this for another two years, but unless a deal is made, a hard Brexit is the only option—an option no one is prepared for. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have all threatened secession if matters get to this extreme.
So what is motivating the UK to secede? Much of the population is worried about immigration to the UK. As the European Commission states, “Any EU national has the right to look for a job in another EU country, and receive the same assistance from the national employment offices as nationals.” This alone has been angering many UK citizens. Claims that immigrants “undercut” the opportunities of UK citizens can be found on almost all social media and protests in the country right now.
“When I was in the United Kingdom, my salary was higher than the salary of my boss,” says Peter Wiedenmann, a German citizen and Director for Market Representation for Ford Motor Co. “He was 25 years my senior.”
Not all nationals feel pushed aside by EU immigrants. O. Liddiard, a native of Reading, England, thinks that things are blown out of proportion, and has no problems with making it known. “When people are uneducated or they don’t know something, it feeds this fear.” Fear has been a deciding factor in the choice to leave, with nationalism and racism becoming a main motivator. Claims that British culture has been dominated by outside influence has been flooding media and news outlets. The Independent claims that up to a third of British citizens believe that there are “no-go” areas in London, because they are governed by Sharia Law. “This is completely false!” says Liddiard. “That is how all of this fear and hatred of immigrants originated.”
Amidst all of the media chaos, the UK seems to be doing fine. According to the Financial Times, while Brexit headlines continue to affect the sterling, “the currency had more room to appreciate than it had to weaken,” insinuating that the pound was headed for a positive turn. From a market perspective, currency and stocks seem to be violently changing, but reports show that it has more or less stayed the same. So far, borders remain open, the currency more or less constant, and negotiations are still being held. All that remains are anxieties about the UK’s future. “Great Britain is on its way to becoming Little England.” stated Wiedenmann. The still legitimate possibility of a hard Brexit, as well as the repercussions this would have on Scottish and Northern Irish independence movements, are fueling the feeling of uncertainty both in the U.K and EU. Others believe that the UK is on to a better future, with more democratic power and freedoms for its citizens. So, as for what the future holds for the UK, only time will tell.This article was written by Laura Kate Ismajli. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch. Photo Credit: European Union and UK flags in front of Big Ben, Brexit EU, By vasara