Brexit is a term made up by a journalist in 2012 to shorten the phrase ‘Britain’s exit from the European union’. Brexit is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU).
The European Union is currently a group of 28 countries that are tied together by an economic and political alliance. This has led to the use of the shared currency of the euro and allows the citizens of EU member countries to travel across borders without presenting their passports.
To understand Brexit, it is useful to know why the EU was formed. After WWII, nobody wanted a return to conflict between European countries. It was felt that one key to peace was closer economic cooperation and communication. If countries could trade more easily and without barriers, it was believed they were less likely to fight each other. In 1957, six countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) signed the Treaty of Rome creating the European Economic Community (EEC) or ‘Common Market’. This was the early version of the EU we all have today. The United Kingdom eventually joined the EEC in 1973.
The EU continued to grow and on the 1st Nov 1993, the 11 countries came together to sign the Treaty of ‘Maastricht’. This formally created the EU that exists today. Six years later, many of the state members adopted a common currency called the euro. It should be noted that the United Kingdom never adopted the euro.
Out of all the countries in EU, the UK population have always had the most mixed feelings about EU membership. Some frequently used arguments are shown below;
FOR LEAVING THE EU
- Immigration (concern over immigrants from the EU pressuring services like NHS, schools and taking jobs from the citizens in the UK)
- Laws (control over UK law and regulations by the EU)
- Membership fees (the UK pays a lot of money to be a member of the EU)
FOR STAYING IN THE EU
- Immigration (many UK industries such as agriculture rely on EU immigrants)
- Laws (some argue that the EU laws have been beneficial to the UK workers)
- Economy (many argue that EU membership improves trade by far more than the fees we must pay)
- Break up the UK (leaving could trigger the break up of the United Kingdom)
In 2016, the Prime Minister David Cameron, decided once and for all to hold a referendum to allow the people of the UK the choice to leave or stay in the EU. The outcome of this historic vote was 51.9% to leave the EU and 48.1% to remain in the EU. On the 31st of March 2019, the UK will leave the EU. It will probably take 5-10 years before we know whether we’ve made the right or wrong decision.