By Khalid Hussain
The world is coming to a head on many fronts. America and China are locked in a trade war of attrition. Servicing debt is becoming increasingly difficult. The banks are sick. The moment of truth has come for Brexit or UK withdrawal from the European Union (EU).
A referendum was held on 23 June 2016 to decide whether the UK should remain in the European Union or leave it. A new word was created—Brexit—which is a short way of saying “the UK leaving the EU” by mixing the words Britain and Exit.
- UK is due to leave the EU no later than April 2019
More than 30 million people voted. Leave won by 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent. England voted for Brexit, by 53.4% to 46.6%. Wales also voted for Brexit, with Leave getting 52.5% of the vote and Remain 47.5%. Scotland and Northern Ireland both backed staying in the EU. Scotland backed Remain by 62% to 38%, while 55.8% in Northern Ireland voted Remain and 44.2% Leave.
The European Union is a club of 28 European Countries with a “single market”. This means EU countries can trade with one another and people can move around freely like they were in one big country. The idea of the single market was to increase trade between countries, creating jobs and lowering prices. However, the UK pays billions of pounds in membership fees to the EU every year.
After the referendum, new Prime Minister Theresa May triggered a special plan called Article 50 on 29 March 2017. This is a formal way of saying the UK and the EU has two years to agree how they will split from each other. So UK is due to leave the EU no later than April 2019. Theresa May has got an agreement from the UK Parliament—the House of Commons and the House of Lords—on her proposed Brexit deal.
The UK Government is now in talks with the EU to decide exactly how the split should happen. This is a complicated process as all the remaining 27 countries’ parliaments have to agree with the deal. Brexit remains a contention within the United Kingdom and across the European Union. Spain has issues with the UK and is grinding its Gibralter axe trying to force some concessions from the UK. Also, fishing rights in English waters are being negotiated.
Theresa May has been meeting EU officials as the two sides scramble to finalise a Brexit deal in time for Sunday’s summit of European leaders. The EU is in a race against time to complete the text of its declaration on future relations with the UK, amid concerns from several member states. EU President Mr Jean-Claude Juncker has canceled a two-day trip to the Canary Islands, on Thursday and Friday, to deal with “the many important events taking place at the moment”.
According to media reports, Theresa May plans a last-ditch effort on Saturday to save her Brexit deal. There is so far no agreement on Gibraltar and fishing rights in off the coast of England. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “Both documents need to be ready by Sunday so that we can sign the exit agreement and accept the declaration on the future relationship.” She has threatened to cancel the Sunday’s summit if there was no Brexit deal in place.
Nothing is ever certain, but as things stand Britain is leaving the European Union. The EU has already shown willingness to sign an agreement that it is not thrilled about. Media is little help as are domestic English politics. The rest of the world simply fails to understand the compulsions from either side. Yet, the tenacity with which UK has been pursuing Brexit suggests the leavers know something that no one else does!
Khalid Hussain is Resident Editor of TLTP – You may contact Khalid Hussain at Resident.Editor@tltpnews.com.pk
The Law Today Pakistan, commonly known as TLTP, is the largest news wire service, headquartered in Islamabad. The service is providing fast, comprehensive and verified news on superior courts adjudications, regulatory framework of fiscal, monitory and external sectors, economic regulatory bodies amid apex institutions regulating the financial system. TLTP is empowering readers of more than 12 national English dailies in the country.