The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union where it had been a member since 1973. A referendum on June 23, 2016 had the majority voting for its exit, hence the term “Brexit,” or the UK leaving EU. Brexit is set in March 2019.
Leaving the EU means UK is leaving the single market, EU’s biggest achievements and among the reasons why it has been formed. Before joining EU, Britain was a member of Europe’s free trade area aka common market. Countries can trade with each other sans tariff in a free trade area, but the member states do not combine their economies, so it is not a single market.
Meanwhile, EU’s single market allows free movement of people, money, goods and services within the union as if it is one country. Within the union, anyone can build a business or take a job anywhere. The intention is to lower prices, enhance trade, and create jobs. EU’s single market needs a law-making body to set up uniform technical standards for products and impose rules.
Brexit opponents and supporters
Then, British Prime Minister David Cameron wanted to remain in the EU following his agreement with other union leaders that would have changed his country’s membership had the voters decided the country to stay. The deal would have given UK a “special” status and address some issues that were not liked about their membership, such as massive immigration. Critics, however, did not see any big difference.
With Cameron were 16 members of his cabinet, including the now PM Theresa May. The Conservative Party was divided into staying, leaving or neutral. The Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrats, Labour Party, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party favored of staying in. Leaders of other EU nations like Germany and France as well as then United States President Barack Obama wanted UK to stay in the EU.
The American government wants UK to be in EU since it believes the single market makes it easy for U.S. businesses. U.S. lawmakers have likewise been worried about anti-Americanism in an EU without UK.
On the other side was the UK Independence Party. For many years, it has campaigned for Britain to leave the EU. During the referendum campaign, they were joined by about 50 percent of the parliament members of the Conservative Party, five members of the Cabinet and a handful from Northern Ireland party DUP.
Reasons for wanting Brexit
EU critics think the union has a lot of regulations that deprive member nations control over their own affairs. The free movement of people like mass migration from poor to rich countries raised questions. “Free movement” means one does not need a visa to go and live in another EU member country.
The parties who want UK to leave EU think the union imposed many rules on business, and that annual membership fees that are billions of pounds return only a few. They want Britain to be in full control again of its borders and reduce the number of people who come to their country to live or work. They want UK to make its own laws once again and not share the decision with other nations. Furthermore, they object on the “ever closer union” concept among EU members, as they think it will lead towards a “United States of Europe.”