A historic failure in British politics—Brexit, revisited

Brexit+is+currently+slated+to+occur+on+October+31%2C+2019%2C+although+this+date+may+be+pushed+back+in+light+of+new+political+complications+in+Westminster

Politico Europe

Brexit is currently slated to occur on October 31, 2019, although this date may be pushed back in light of new political complications in Westminster

Daniel Shevchenko, Student Writer

 

 

Six months have passed since The GNA Insider last touched upon the topic of Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit). Then, at a time when it seemed that the polarization and political haphazardness of the ordeal could worsen no further, the facts of the matter were nevertheless clearly laid out; however, in the span of time between November and the present day, a string of game-changing occurrences have further complicated proceedings in Westminster and strained the relationship between the United Kingdom and the remaining 27 nations of the EU—not least the recent announcement of Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation. With the race to replace May as the British head of government firing up and a campaign for a second referendum on Brexit itself continuously amassing support, we believe that an updated overview of the controversial and lengthy process is long since overdue.

Key among the bipartisan woes of parliamentarians in both the “Leave” and “Remain” camps has been the withdrawal agreement negotiated over several years between the government of the United Kingdom and the heads of the

The Evening Standard
Pro-EU citizens of the United Kingdom have gathered in thousand-strong crowds to protest the impending exit of their country from the European Union

European Union and its constituent countries. While the agreement has been supported unanimously by the 27 continental EU nations, the British House of Commons has held the contrary opinion, rejecting the agreement on three separate occasions (one of which was the largest defeat of a bill in modern British history, with a 230-vote opinion disparity) and criticizing it for tying the United Kingdom to the European Union via a temporary customs union and a “backstop” to maintain free movement across the historically tense U.K.-Irish border. A proposed fourth vote on the agreement is considered to be the chief cause of Prime Minister May’s resignation.

 

The rejections of the agreement were punctuated by several series of “indicative votes,” whereby members of the British House of Commons expressed their opinions on propositions to hold a second referendum on the Brexit process and to reject a situation where the United Kingdom would leave the European bloc without an approved deal, for fear of the economic and political impacts of such an outcome. The former was rejected by a 12-person majority in the second round of indicative votes; the latter was adopted with a 43-vote margin. These developments displayed that while strong opinions had not been made up on the notion of allowing British citizens to vote on Brexit a second time—indeed, more conservative members of Parliament have branded such a prospect as “undemocratic”—the idea of exiting the European Union under circumstances which, by the ruling government itself, have been shown to possess the potential to wreck the United Kingdom’s economic prowess has been soundly turned down.

In spite of this, however, a large portion of mainstream politicians in the United Kingdom have refused to take a no-deal Brexit—the default option for the U.K’s expected exit on October 31, should no deal be passed—off of the table. The majority of candidates for Mrs. May’s position, including Conservative Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, and Andrea Leadsom, have expressed an intent to attempt to renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal agreement (a request which has been soundly refused by the EU in the past) and brute-force their way through Brexit without a deal, if necessary. Additionally, the newly-formed Brexit Party—the largest single party in the recent European Parliament elections, claiming over 30% of the electorate and decimating the Conservative Party—has also advocated a no-deal Brexit, with party leader Nigel Farage openly advocating leaving without a deal in place of adopting the agreement negotiated by the Conservatives.

Nonetheless, while the times may appear bleak for Remainers, the political landscape is not exclusively dominated by pro-Brexit politicians. The aforementioned elections to the European Parliament, while dominated by the Brexit Party as a single entity, shows a small majority of pro-EU seats, with a hypothetical coalition of the pro-remain parties edging out a speculated pro-Brexit grouping by 5 positions in the institution. Calls for a second referendum have also been getting clearer among Remainer members of Parliament, along with demands for the government to call a snap election in light of the increasingly divided nature of the Brexit debate and the perceived incompetence of the ruling

The Conversation
Boris Johnson is one of the front-runners for the leadership position to succeed Theresa May; he has been variously called a xenophobe and a sexist, and is currently facing a legal challenge over alleged Brexit misconduct.

parties to push through a firm agenda on the matter. The Labour Party, presently serving as the majority party of the opposition, has, after intense pressure from constituents and criticism for having an unspecified Brexit position, formerly endorsed the former. Its pro-Remain partners in the opposition—namely the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party—are of the same opinion.

In a time of intense governmental division and controversy, where traditionally dominant groups are swept aside by dissatisfied voters and new parties on both sides of the political spectrum unexpectedly rise to prominence, little certainty remains over the future of the United Kingdom. Perhaps the nation’s conservatives will choose a firmly pro-no-deal successor to May, potentially spelling the end of both the Brexit process and the strong Britain of modern history; perhaps, conversely, the new prime minister will call for a general election or a public vote on

Brexit as is—two increasingly likely possibilities which could, depending on their outcomes, either strengthen or weaken the United Kingdom as a whole; perhaps, even, in a highly unlikely scenario, the new leader of the nation will attempt to right the wrongs of his or her predecessors by single-handedly revoking Britain’s move to exit the European Union altogether. Regardless of the decisions to be made by future politicians, however, one fact remains certain: deep wounds have been inflicted upon the British populace—ones which will not heal for years or even decades, and threaten to dismantle the traditional elite of Westminster in favor of fringe voters and parties. The Brexit process has no clear end in sight, though various news and statistics may offer momentary relief or distress to Europeans. A single thought seems to lie on the minds of Remainers and Brexiteers alike—to end the madness which began with a single referendum three years ago.