By SARAH-LOUISE PEERS
On the morning of Thursday 23rd June 2016, approximately 30 million citizens of the United Kingdom made their way to vote on whether Britain should leave or remain with the European Union (BBC, December 2016). By roughly 8am the following morning, the fate of Britain was revealed with a nail-biting result: 52% of the population who vote on the day, decided we were to leave the European Union. Since the referendum, David Cameron soon announced his resignation and Britain was greeted by a new Prime minister; Theresa May who agreed with Cameron’s view of remaining with the EU but respected the nation’s views and concentrated “On Britain’s national interest. Britain’s future. Our influence around the world. Our security. And our prosperity.” (May,Conservativehome, April 2016). May has continued to focus on Brexit with processing Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, in hope for Britain to leave the European Union by 2019. Although Britain may face consequences for their decision to leave, it is in fact the EU and countries within the union who are left unravelling following the result of BREXIT.
Britain has been with the European Union since January 1973, having joined alongside Denmark and Ireland. (Europa.eu,2016) The result of the growing nations to this day have helped the international growth of citizens with the EU countries. Undergraduates have the ability to study in different EU countries as well as people having the opportunity to travel for better job prospects, thus reducing the unemployment rate of the country. Britain is known for it’s diverse culture, especially in heavily dense cities like London having 8.7 million people residing in the city (ukpopulation2016.com, 2016) because European citizens have the choice to apply and migrate to countries for better opportunities. However, people may now feel they are unable to travel freely or work in Britain when they leave because of the restrictions they will now face. Residents who may have family within other European countries may struggle to visit them or travel to UK for work purposes unless they can possibly gain a dual passport. Many people are left confused to how this will affect them but they are aware the cause of this; BREXIT. British citizens were fuelled with many promises if they voted to leave the EU, from more funding going towards the NHS to having the ability to create our laws with the ability to free trade with the world. However, there was one aspect which convinced the nation to vote to leave and fuel their decision: Immigration control. (Voteleavetakecontrol.com, 2016) Britain was promise to not only have control of their boarders, but also having the ability to control immigration thus the overall population of the country. Yet, compared to other countries within Europe, the immigration issue which they have is very little. Now, the EU are responsible to distribute immigration issue especially since many people are fleeing their country for safety.
The EU have already dealt with a high level of immigrates, travelling from countries like Syria to flee within Europe for safety. Germany harvested approximately 1 million migrants in 2015 (migrationpolicy.org, 2015) and who could forget the ‘Jungle’ in Calais before it’s disbandment in October this year (BBC.co.uk, Oct 2016), resulting in many of the migrants attempting to smuggle themselves within lorries to travel to UK. The UK have already accepted approximately 10,000 migrants (majority being children), but the EU were possibly hoping for Britain to continue to help with the constant issue, as there is no denying that Europe is struggling with the high level of populated density of immigrants fleeing towards them.
Theresa May has been meeting with members of the European Union to discuss article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, but is it possibly that the European Union is struggling to accept Britain leaving? Britain was and still is a central location within Europe for the transportation of goods due to the ferry ports located around the country. Both European and British citizens would be impacted on shopping goods prices possibly fluctuate due to the result from BREXIT. This has raise an important question whether Britain is still able to remain in the single market once leaving, because of joining before being part of the European Union. If not, there is a consideration for Britain to possibly be part of a free trade member like it was before. It could be possible Europe may feel concerned if Britain succeed and cope well without the European Union as it may trigger a catalyst for other countries to may follow suit. Where would that leave the EU?
One thing which impacted both citizens of Europe and theUK following the result of BREXIT is the variation of the Pound Stirling and Euro currency worth. According to xe.com (2016) the Euro-Pound was at 0.77 at the beginning of the year and has only increased to 0.84. This change seems less drastic compared to the Pound-Euro which started strong at the start of the year with 1.35, but soon plummeted to 1.19, making the pound practically worthless when it comes to currency exchange. This has affected both people of Britain as well as Europe. This could result in not only trade increasing the price, but also increase the food prices within the UK due cost of importation of goods.
An issue which has affected both sided parties because of BREXIT, was the spur of hate crime towards people of different cultural backgrounds. A few days after he BREXIT result, people living in Great Britain has felt the need to verbally and sometimes physically abuse members of the public who are not a stereotypical form of British. According to Home Office, there was a sharp increase of hate crime reported to the authorities by 41%. (independent.co.uk, 2016.) This included 2 weeks before the EU referendum and after when the result had been finalised. One attack which has struck a nerve to the polish citizens living in Britain was the attack in Harlow, Essex. 40 year Polish immigrant Arek Jozwik was killed by six teenagers for simply speaking Polish. Many citizens who reside in Britain feel that there is more to come because of the issue of immigration being highlighted within the EU referendum.
Theresa May is hoping to complete the introduction of the UK leaving the EU by March 2017. This will give both nations enough time to discuss on negotiating the terms for Britain to leave. At this moment, the UK are expected to pay a settlement fee of approximately fifty billion euros. (skynews.co.uk, 2016) According to a Downing Street spokesperson, “The UK will uphold its obligations to the EU while it is still a member but future costs are open to negotiation.” It is believed that there will a thorough discussion to what Britain are entitled to once leaving the EU, but this fee is vital to cover for any “outstanding liabilities.”
There was always a small hope for the EU that UK would change their mind about leaving, but sadly what done is done. The hope of the UK staying with the EU was triggered by the sudden demand for a second referendum to take place because people were unhappy of the result. Citizens of Britain who were unhappy with the result, created a petition for a second referendum to take place because the turnout was so poor, it had reached to over four million signatures. The petition was soon discussed in Parliament on 5th September 2016, where it was decided that a second referendum will not take place. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said on the matter “as the Prime Minister has said, the decision must be respected. We must now prepare for the process to exit the EU and the Government is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for the British people in the negotiations.” (Petition.parliament.uk, 2016)
An issue which has left EU nationalities who live in the UK, are unsure of their fate within the country. Many citizens are worried that they would be taken from the country and told to move back to their home country. However, there is a discussion being that EU nationals who are able to prove that they have lived in the United Kingdom for more than five years, should be offered permanent citizenship. According to pro-leave Labour MP Gisela Stuart “ Britain should make clear at the start of the Brexit negotiations that EU citizens already here b efore that date can stay.” She continued “This would send a clear signal about the kind of country the UK will be after Brexit and the relationship we want with Europe. We should expect reciprocal deals for Britons living in European countries, but Britain should make the first move to demonstrate goodwill.” (theguardian.com, 2016).
One of the main concerns which surround the consequences of BREXIT is if EU students are still eligabe to study within the UK, once the country has left the EU. It is speculated that due to the result of the referendum and the gradual increase which both Europe and the UK of hate crime they are experiencing; the number of EU students would soon plummet. According o Cambridge University, two thirds of the number of students are set to not to study over in the UK. Cambridge University alone are expected their annual admissions of both undergraduate and postgraduate to decrease from approximately 1100 to very little as under 400 students per year. (theguardian.co.uk,2016.) This theory was soon backed by Cardiff University, who said “We believe there is a risk that EU staff, and UK staff with EU spouses, will seek employment outside the UK if they no longer feel welcome or are uncertain over their right to remain. This could affect our ability to attract the best staff.” This will impact heavily to not only the education system to both nations, but also the employment rate. Although there will be plenty of job opportunities open for the public, many might not be able to fulfil the role because of the loophole within our education system. This is why it is vital for both nations need to further discuss this issue, as this will have a huge impact on both of UK and European economy.
Another idea which the EU are currently discussing is the possibility of the UK of paying more fees if they wish to have access to any European benefits. At the beginning of December, foreign secretary Boris Johnson spoke of the idea and deemed it as ‘pure speculation’. He continued to address the idea on the Andrew Marr show, stating that “ is obviously something that David Davis is considering but it doesn’t mean a decision has been taken…. I am not going to get involved in the minuriae of our negotiating position before we trigger article 50.” (theguardian.com, 2016)
Overall, there is still a while to go for anyone to see a true impact to what will happen either nations, until negotiations have been fully made and both parties involved have handled the negotiations. Although we have seen signs that leaving the EU may impact them in a negative way, there is still hope that things will turn out for the best. One thing is obvious though; everyone is keeping an eye on both the EU and the UK until all decision have been made.