On June 23rd, 2016 Britain made history by becoming the first country to vote to leave the European Union, this became known as Brexit. They held a referendum which had a voter turnout of 71.8% and voted to leave with a 51.9% favorable vote. While Great Britain as a whole voted to leave the EU, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay, though their votes were not enough to sway the entire country. While no other nation state has ever left the European Union, Greenland, a territory of Denmark, left after a similar vote in 1982. Brexit supporters claimed that the rules on businesses proposed by the EU were too strict and were causing a lackluster growth in the British economy, they also wanted to make their own laws again as, under the EU, all new laws are created through a shared decision making process by the EU. The largest reasoning, however, on why Britain should leave the European Union came down to immigration, a topic that plagues our nation as well. One of the main principles of the EU is the concept of “free movement”. This means that any resident of any of the 28 countries in the EU has the right and ability to go and live in another EU country without needing to obtain a visa. This has caused a large influx of immigrants to Britain. Those who were against Brexit believe that leaving the EU would cause many different problems by leaving and that many of the benefits obtained through membership would go away. They also cited that most of the immigrants were young, hardworking people who helped boost the economy. It seems that the naysayers may have been right.
There are several different issues keeping Brexit from happening smoothly, but the biggest is that of the Irish border. Northern Ireland is a part of Britain while Ireland is not, making this the only land border between Britain and the EU. Currently there is free travel between the two nations and the border is not patrolled or marked, this was originally removed after the Good Friday Agreement which ended decades of violence between the two countries. The concern is that, once Britain is out of the EU, borders would have to be put in place, violating the agreement and possibly causing violence to breakout once again. This is just one of the many different hangups for Brexit. The issue is that so many people did not want Brexit to happen so they are looking for a softer Brexit, while the people who did want a harder Brexit.
In the coming weeks a decision will have to be made. Parliament can intervene, which could come in the form of non-confidence vote, another referendum, or a deal worked out with May. The alternative is that Britain might miss their ability to make a deal whatsoever and leave the EU without one. This is a solution that everyone is trying to avoid as it could cause huge economic problems and would be a bureaucratic nightmare. If a non-confidence vote is called, which has happened twice already, it is up to Parliament to decide if Theresa May is qualified for office. If they decide to vote for it, her entire staff would be removed and a new government election would take place. There could also be a new referendum, which would allow the country to re-vote and possibly vote to stay in the EU, which is looking like a popular option recently. The only other option would be for Theresa May, Parliament, and the EU to agree on a deal that benefits both sides, and they need to do it quickly.