EU a Vacation Home for Britain? While the global tensions were freezing down after World War II into a Cold War, European nations, in 1957, formed the European Economic Community (EEC), which the United Kingdom was not a part of. In 1963, UK showed hints of joining the EEC. However, then President of France, Charles de Gaulle was skeptical about the British tilting towards the Americans even after EEC membership.
UK joined EEC in 1973 and soon after, in 1975, it was on the brink of exiting. It was saved by a referendum, a first during the period of Britain’s stay in the EEC. The politically Eurosceptic Labour Party lost its limb and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was formed.
The rollercoaster went downhill again in 1984 when Conservative Party PM Margaret Thatcher took a tough stance towards the payment of Farm Subsidies to the EEC at a time when UK was the third poorest country amongst EU nations. The Iron Lady’s strong opinion was heeded then and is in place to date. This event is seen to have given UK a more vocal position in the EEC.
European Union was founded in 1992 through the signing of the Maastricht Treaty by EEC member nations. Britain’s bumpy ride with the EU started on various different terms post-1992.
21st Century Britain’s Outlook on EU Once all-pervasive and powerful, the British were slowly losing ground in the EU. Due to the horror of the ‘Mad Cow‘ disease, British Beef was banned by EU nations during the late ’90s. At the beginning of the 21st Century, British-made chocolates, that contained vegetable-oil, sparked a controversy. And with the addition of 8 new members in the EU in 2004, Britain was apprehensive about the flocking economic migrants.
While the 2008 Global Financial Crisis was settling, David Cameron, PM of UK, in a very bold move rejected an EU treaty in 2011 on the grounds that it did not protect the financial sector of Britain. EU members were enraged with Britain’s decision and mulled over Britain’s stay in the EU.
Cameron fought elections with the agenda of renegotiating the UK-EU terms. Cameron won the election and decided to hold a referendum on whether Britain will remain in the EU on June 23, 2016.
I don’t just want a better deal for Britain. I want a better deal for Europe too. It will be an in-out referendum. It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics. I say to the British people: this will be your decision.
– David Cameron in his 2013 Bloomberg Speech
Post Referendum Snapshot 2016 Referendum resulted in 51.9% voters voting to ‘Leave‘ EU. Pro-Euro Cameron resigned and Theresa May held office. On March 29, 2017, May revoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Revoking the Article is the first step if a country voluntarily wants to leave the EU. May also stated that UK would not be a part of the EU Customs Union and the Single Market, and that European Court of Justice (ECJ) would not have jurisdiction over UK. The Brexit date was formalized to be 29 March 2019 even if Britain had a ‘no-deal Brexit‘ with the EU. It must be noted that Northern Ireland and Scotland voted against Brexit.
One of the issues that hindered the problem was UK’s demand to build a hard border between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is a part of the UK. Interestingly, Northern Ireland, which voted against Brexit, will continue to follow EU norms. Whereas Scotland is mulling over an independence referendum.
Britan’s Exit Deal negotiation stretched for two years. In 2018, the EU rejected the UK-prepared revised Exit proposal that outlined UK – EU ties post-Brexit. EU and UK were to decide upon the divorce on fronts of legality, politics, economic policies, trade & commerce, migration laws, aerospace laws, etc.
May’s Brexit Proposal got rejected three times in the UK House of Commons. Brexit Date got extended from March 29, 2019, to 30 June 2019 to 31 October 2019. In the compelling European Parliament Elections of May 2019, the pro-Brexit Party won. Thersa May resigned and Boris Johnson was asked by the Queen to form the government.
On 17 October 2019, EU and UK agreed on the revised Exit proposal. Extending the Brexit Date for the third time, EU deferred it to 31 January 2020. Boris Johnson, PM of UK, presented EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill which passed in the House of Commons and later in Parliament, once MPs were assured that a ‘no-deal Brexit‘ is off the table. It received Royal Assent on 23 January 2020.
What Next for Britain? The Act is up for a vote in the European Parliament on 29 January 2020. With the Brexit date on 31 January 2020, the UK must get the Act passed in the European Parliament or either get an extension or settle for a ‘no-deal Brexit‘ – a scenario in which Britain exits EU without withdrawal agreement.
If the Act passes, the UK will undergo an 11-month transition period. During that period, UK and EU will negotiate the terms and conditions on trade, aviation, water treaties, law, data security and sharing, utility supplies, pharma treaties, etc. ECJ will hold jurisdiction over UK and almost all the rules including movement in UK by citizens of EU members, and of Britons in EU will remain the same.
Maastricht Treaty – The treaty founded the European Union and established its pillar structure which stayed in place until the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009. The treaty also greatly expanded the competences of the EEC/EU and led to the creation of the single European currency, the euro. More Info
Mad Cow – In the United Kingdom, from 1986 to 2015, more than 184,000 cattle were diagnosed with the peak of new cases occurring in 1993. It is believed that a few million cattle with the condition likely entered the food supply during the outbreak. More Info
The Irish backstop is a defunct appendix to a draft Brexit withdrawal agreement developed by the May government and the European Commission in December 2017 and finalised in November 2018, that aimed to prevent an evident border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit. The backstop would have required keeping Northern Ireland in some aspects of the Single Market, until an alternative arrangement were agreed between the EU and the UK. More Info