Brexit got you a bit confused?
Don’t worry you’re not alone—it’s pretty complicated stuff!
This explainer should help cover the really important bits, so by the end of this article you’ll know your remainers from your leavers!
You might have noticed that a lot of newspapers, TV shows, and even people around you are talking quite a bit about Brexit. But, what does Brexit even mean?
The Very Basics.
Well first of all ‘Brexit’, is the combination of the words British and Exit.
It represents the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European union.
So, who made this decision?
David Cameron, then Prime Minister, announced on the 22nd of January 2013 that if his political party (the Conservatives) won the upcoming election, the British people would get to decide whether or not they wanted to stay in the EU. The conservatives won the 2015 general election and the UK got its chance to vote.
What followed was a pretty fiercely fought battle between Eurosceptics and Europhiles both trying to make the best case for whether to leave or remain.
Whoops, sorry—two pretty big words there. Let’s get some quick definitions.
Eurosceptic: Someone who doesn’t want the European Union to get more powerful.
Europhile: Someone who supports the European Union.
These definitions link pretty closely with:
Remainer: A person who wants to remain in the European Union.
Leaver: A person who wants to leave the European Union.
The Eurosceptic side had people, like Nigel Farage, with the UK Independence Party and Conservatives, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. Among the remainers, there was David Cameron, Phillip Hammond, and the current Prime Minister Theresa May.
The Outcome of the Referendum
On the 23rd of June 2016 over 30 million British people voted on whether or not they wanted to stay in the European Union. The number of people who could have voted that day was over 46 million, meaning a turnout of 72.2 per cent.
The referendum result were:
Leave: 51.9 per cent.
Remain: 48.1 per cent.
But most news programmes and newspapers will round these numbers to 52 per cent and 48 per cent.
This result lead to David Cameron resigning as Prime Minister on the 24th of June 2016. Nearly a month later Theresa May took the up the top job and the responsibility of Brexit.
On the 29th of March 2017, Theresa May triggered article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, marking the start of a two-year negotiation process, which is set to end on the 29th of March 2019.
The Lisbon Treaty is basically an agreement between all the members of the European Union about how the EU should operate.
Article 50 of this agreement sets out a plan for any country which might want to leave the EU. It says once a country has informed the EU of its intention to leave, they have two years to negotiate with the Union on how they are going to withdraw.
So, what exactly are we leaving behind?
The basic idea of the EU is to make relationships between European countries easier.
The EU was set up following the Second World War with the aim to promote peace and cooperation across Europe.
Being part of the European union is like being in a club—currently there are 28 members, including the UK (as we’re only in the process of leaving).
But what do you get for being part of this club?
Being a member means being part of the single market, which means no tariffs (tax/duty) on imports or exports between EU members. It also means free movement of people across borders and different law enforcement agencies can work together. The European Union even has its own laws, courts, and currency (but the UK never swapped its Pounds for Euros).
The European Union essentially allows the member states to all get along and work as one big body.
For some people however, this isn’t worth the membership fee. People were concerned about the power of the EU and the UK’s lack of control over immigration was a big issue for some. They thought the UK would be better off without the EU.
So, what does the future hold for the UK and the EU?
Honestly, that’s the part everyone’s a little unsure about right now. But stay tuned to The Impressionist for a look at what Brexit has in store for us!