Sunday 24 March 2019

Brexit: What The Hell Is Going On?

I went on holiday a few days ago and, within those days, the news on Brexit has completely hit the fan. And as I’m trying to play catch up via reading news, listening to podcasts and looking all over social media to understand what the heck is happening? 

Now, like I said on multiply times, I don’t do non-book related blog posts that often so forgive me. You have my blessing to jump this post as, I promise, normal service will resume with books, books, books! 

So, what is going on? 

Answer: *shrugs* 

I kid you not. I’m the main person at where I work who keeps up with this stuff and even I’m confused as heck. Now, before I go on, I am not an expert on this VERY CONFUSING and VERY COMPLEX issue so I beg your forgiveness if I make mistakes.

Ok, back to the beginning we go. Back in 2016, the UK was asked if we wished the remain in the European Union or leave. This was due to then-Prime Minster David Cameron was scared over a small political party, UKIP, slowly gaining seats within Parliament due to them wanting an EU referendum and wanting to leave. So, he put this hugely complex question to the public and put it down to a Yes/No poll. 

This split the nation into two. The Leave side told lies, saying this was a good thing for the nation as the money we would save from paying the EU would go into our NHS and help towards immigration. And the Remain side didn’t really do much as they thought they would win. And, by a hair, the Leave won with 52% against 48%. 

Now, no one expected Leave to win. So, we then had a situation: what exactly is Brexit? Well, no one really knew. David Cameron quit his job as Prime Minister and the man who really pushed for Brexit, leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, quit his job as leader as he did what he set out to do. And the politicians who pushed for Leave didn’t really know what to do. 

So, Theresa May became Prime Minster and had to, somehow, get the best deal for the UK to leave the EU, who are angry at the UK wanting to leave and are going to make it difficult (as there are several other EU countries who, themselves, are curious over leave the EU) and, somehow, unite a now divided country. 

Best way to do that: activate Article 50 to leave the EU (being March 29th, 2019) and then call a snap general election, even though she promised that she wouldn’t. And what happened? Theresa May and the Conservative party had a small majority in the UK House of Commons but Theresa thought if she could get a larger majority, it would help with EU negations. However, it failed and she won a minority, having the Northern Ireland party, the DUP, to support her. The DUP agreed to this is the UK government gives them money to support them and want Northern Ireland to be treated the same as the rest of the UK (though gay marriage is still illegal as is abortion). 

Still with me? Good, ok, let’s keep going. 

Now, with this, and the general public still not sure what Brexit means and still feeling divided, fears about what’s going to happen next are growing. Fears of if we leave the EU without a deal, this could effect businesses, medicine, food and other vital things as well as Brits that live within the EU and people from EU countries working and living in the UK and how stuff will effect countries round the world such as the US. 

But don’t worry, Theresa May and her Brexit Secretary, first David Davies (who then quit after two years) then Dominic Raab (who also quit after four months) and now Stephen Barclay, kept going back and forth between London and the EU to agree a deal. And, in January 2019, after two long years, a draft treaty was agreed. With this, Theresa May showed it to the House of Commons. 

And it lost. It was the largest defeat in the history of Parliament EVER! 

Basically, the Remainers in Parliament voted the deal down because they thought it was too harsh, whereas Leavers in Parliament thought it was too soft. Which you think would be a good compromise, but with everyone having a different idea who Brexit means, no one can agree on it. 

It comes back to the question which the public was asked a few year prior: do you want to remain within the EU or leave? It was very cut and dry with a Yes/No answer. There was no third or fourth opinion to go “Yes, let’s leave, but let’s do this or let’s do that”. 

Anyway, back to the EU we go to change the treaty, though the EU said publicly that it was done with negations. But both sides managed to make some more wiggle room. This up-to-date deal came back to the UK Parliament and, again, it was voted down [but with a smaller lose]. This vote was taken on the 12th March, 17 days away from Brexit. In the same vote, Government said we can’t leave the EU without a deal.

Theresa May said she was going to put the deal up for vote again the following week, only for the Speaker of the House to point out that she can’t. This is due to parliamentary precedents that go back to 1604. The only way she can have a third meaningful vote is for the deal to be “significantly different from the previous”. 

And now, am coming up to when I was away so bear with me as I am now going to rely on news websites, podcasts and goodness knows what else. 

While I was away, Theresa May made a speech, expressing her frustration and saying that it was all politicians’s fault that we are in this situation and she was on the public’s side. Expect politicians were angry that she didn’t tackle some of the responsibility and feared that, due to this speech, hate crimes from the general public towards politicians will increase, the fear of what happened to Jo Cox a few years ago still fresh in everyone’s minds. The Prime Minister’s tone changed 24 hours later in a second speech, where it sounded almost like an apology, expressed that herself and all politicians from UK and EU governments are frustrated and exhausted over Brexit and all want to find the best deal to suit everyone. While this happened, she went to the EU, asking for a short expansion to Article 50, giving both her and the EU time to either get her deal through Parliament or renegotiation the deal. 

The EU, in the end, agreed a small extension (which wasn’t the extension May wanted as she wanted it to last till mid to late June). But it depends on if the deal does go through Parliament or not. If the deal is agreed by 29th March, the extension can be 22nd May. If not, the extension will be 12th April where another option must put forward and passed, a further extension is requested (which means the UK takes part in European  or the UK leaves the EU without a deal. 

And while this is happening, the UK public are getting confused, angry and feel like they are not being heard. Both sides have held protest marches throughout the course of the two years, the most recent being the People’s March yesterday, which had either hundreds of thousands of people in London, demanding a second EU referendum or Article 50 to be revoked. And an online petition on the Government’s petition website has, at the time of writing this, under 5 million signatures. Whatever way you look at it, the country hasn’t healed from the Remain/Leave divide. 

Plus, the public are watching MPs from all sides and are wondering if they are putting country first, their own self-interest or party politics. And this comes at a worse time for both Conservatives and their main political rival, Labour, as both are facing antisemitism and islamophobia rows. 

And now, there are reports that members of the Conservative party will support the latest deal - if Theresa May steps down as Prime Minister with immediate effect. This isn’t anything new, however, as members of the Conservative party tried to push her out as party leader a year or so back. She won the vote to remain leader, on the condition that she would step down as leader and would not run in the next general election of 2022 (unless a snap general election is called). 

Which leads us to now. Do we all understand where we are? As I don’t! 

According to some research I’ve done, we have up to six options that PMs could vote on, as well as the current deal. These include revoking Article 50 and canceling Brexit, another EU referendum, the current deal with custom union, the current deal with custom union AND single market access, a free trade deal very similar to Canada or leaving the EU without a deal. 

Plus, the UK government want to have a decision soon as they and the EU don’t really want to the  UK to taken part in the upcoming European parliament elections. And, if that happens, I’m not sure what happens next. But some news outlets fear that we could be heading for a general election. 

So, what the heck are the UK doing now? Honestly, I have no idea… and in a matter of a few hours, all the news I know could be thrown up in the air over a new development so this might be hugely out of the date in a matter of hours. 

What I do know is that there is still a huge way to go with healing the country, regardless if the UK leaves with a deal, leaves without a deal or revokes Article 50 and cancels Brexit (either for a small amount of time or permanently). Young people who voted remain blame the older generation who voted leave. Scotland and Wales could hold their own referendum, whether to stay within the UK or leave and form independent countries (all rumours at the moment but Scotland could use Brexit as a reason). There is still a huge void within the country and some people don’t think the government have done enough to fix this divide. 

And whatever does happen next is going to effect the United Kingdom for years and generations to come. And whatever Parliament does decide, they will be consequences. How far-reaching they could be is anyone’s guess.

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