By Nevelee Shekhar | Edited by Aman Kayal
With the resignation of Boris Johnson, is the United Kingdom realising its mistake? The short and disastrous tenure of Liz Truss has proven how big of a predicament Brexit was for the UK.
The European Union, an international organisation, became a global power and a free trade zone, integrating European countries after World War 2. In 1973, the United Kingdom officially became a part of the ‘European Economic Community,’ which is now succeeded by the European Union. The June 2016 ‘Brexit referendum’ shocked the world as the United Kingdom voted to leave the union they joined in the 70s. There was the fear of turning back years of economic and military development and giving up any influence they had in Europe. On 31st January 2020, the UK officially left its biggest trading partner.
The Brexit deal marked the end of the freedom to live and work between the two places. However, it also marked the ability of the UK to set its trading policy and negotiate deals with countries outside the European Union. In January 2022, the Brexit Freedoms Bill was introduced to remove EU laws and regulations from the UK. The government wanted to ‘cut £1bn of red tape’ to facilitate business and regulatory burdens. This bill was introduced to unite the country and level up the economy after quitting the bloc. All the laws that remained in place after Brexit were to be removed more efficiently once the bill came into play.
However, this move was criticised by the ‘pro-Europe’ critics, more colloquially known as the ‘Remainers,’ as a ‘post-Brexit power grab,’ stating that the UK government has already lost billions of pounds and the economic growth was estimated to be lower than if they had remained in the European Union. Nevertheless, by the end of 2022, this will revoke all powers, rights or restrictions of the EU over the United Kingdom.
Thousands of people in the UK have joined the ‘Anti-Brexit’ protests, calling for Britain again to be part of the European Union. The worst fears of the people of the UK are showing in the economy. The renewed trading relationship between the EU and the UK reduced imports and exports by 15% and reduced long-run productivity by 4% relative to when they were a part of the EU. Many zealously oppose Brexit and will continue to think it was a colossal blunder, and they have their reasons for doing so.
The Northern Ireland Protocol succeeded in avoiding a hard border in Ireland, but in doing so, it created another border within the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland remains a part of the United Kingdoms’ customs while enforcing the European Union’s Customs Code. It remains in the EU single free trade market. This fortified the feelings of the “Unionists” that they were perpetually being cut off from the rest of the UK. Northern Ireland feared that posts and cameras would lead to uncertainty along the border. It is understood that the protocol is far from sufficient.
Millions of British citizens have jobs in Europe, which are now at risk, and sectors could receive a fall in the number of skilled labourers available. A decline in the population of the United Kingdom could reduce the demand for goods and services sold within the country. Sectors that could have significant impacts include the nursing, manufacturing and agricultural sectors. This further might also slow down the recovery process of the UK from COVID-19 and lead to an inflation by 5% of goods and services. Today, the European Union no longer recognises a plethora of professional qualifications of the British.
Pre-Brexit, the European Union formed 25% of the global GDP. Nonetheless, with Britain separating from the union, the impact of foreign direct investment will cost the country over £300 billion almost instantly. Along with this, businesses in Europe invest billions into the UK annually, both in the public as well as the private sectors. The European single market is an invaluable method of trade which enables the unchallenging movement of goods and services across the member states. This, in turn, reduces the negotiating power the UK has with the rest of the world. The UK has signed deals which duplicate the terms they previously held as an EU member, therefore not creating any benefits. Any prospective boosts to the economy are overshadowed by the UK’s economic hit from leaving the union. Ireland’s Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has found that trade from the EU to the UK has lowered by 20% post-Brexit.
Then comes the question of security. One of the significant incentives for joining a union is the military alliance they make. The obligation of ‘mutual defence’ is binding on all EU members. Therefore, the EU equipped the UK to tackle terrorism and cross-border crime more capably. Although, now the UK will have to reinvigorate its defence and security relationship.
The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, recently stated that the UK was in a ‘sort of mirage’ and clearly its destiny is Europe. In her resignation statement, Liz Truss mentioned the United Kingdom wanted a ‘low tax, high growth’ economy from Brexit. Now that the UK has accepted that they cannot follow through, the negotiated Brexit was despondent. Nonetheless, the debate between the ‘Remainers’ and the ‘Brexiteers’ is coming to an end, as Britain slowly realises its misapprehensions of ‘Brexit’.
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